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johnw
02-13-2010, 04:32 PM
From Reuters:


http://ad.doubleclick.net/ad/us.reuters/bizfinance/greenbiz/article;type=fixedpanel;sz=1x1;articleID=USTRE61A0 WA20100211;taga=aaaaaaaaa;ord=5991? (http://ad.doubleclick.net/jump/us.reuters/bizfinance/greenbiz/article;type=fixedpanel;sz=1x1;articleID=USTRE61A0 WA20100211;taga=aaaaaaaaa;ord=5991?)




Climate change affecting Kenya's coffee output

Helen Nyambura-Mwaura (http://blogs.reuters.com/search/journalist.php?edition=us&n=helen.nyambura&)






MOMBASA, Kenya (Reuters) - Climate change has affected Kenyan coffee production through unpredictable rainfall patterns and excessive droughts, making crop management and disease control a nightmare, a researcher said on Thursday.
Green Business (http://www.reuters.com/finance/greenBusiness) | COP15 (http://www.reuters.com/subjects/cop15)
Intermittent rainfall in the 2007/08 crop year, for example, caused a terrible bout of the Coffee Berry Disease that cut Kenyan output 23 percent to 42,000 metric tons as farmers were caught out by rains and did not protect their crop in time.
"We have seen climate change in intermittent rainfall patterns, extended drought and very high temperatures," said Joseph Kimemia, director of research at Kenya's Coffee Research Foundation (CRF).
"Coffee operates within a very narrow temperature range of 19-25 degrees (Celsius). When you start getting temperatures above that, it affects photosynthesis and in some cases, trees wilt and dry up. We have see trees drying up in some marginal coffee areas."
For coffee to flower, for example, it needs a couple of months of dry weather followed by showers. This year, Kenya had rains in January, normally a very dry month when the bushes undergo what is known as stress before they flower.
Because of the unpredictable weather, bushes are flowering when they should not and have coffee berries at different stages of maturity. This means farmers have to hire labor through most of the year to pick very few kilos of coffee.
"You look at a coffee tree and cannot determine the season because it has beans of all ages. That is a problem when it comes to disease management, insect management and the worst problem is in harvesting," he said. "The cost is enormous."
IRRIGATION NOT AN OPTION
In a normal year, farmers spray their crop protectively against Coffee Berry Disease (CBD) as from April but because of unexpected rains, they are unable to plan.
"It makes management totally difficult. That is one of the reasons we had CBD," Kimemia told Reuters on the sidelines of the annual African Fine Coffee Conference bringing together producers from nine African countries, buyers and suppliers.
"Farmers went into spraying but the damage was done. It was throwing good money after bad money, making our coffee production cost higher than it should be."
Drought may mean crop losses ranging from 10 percent to the entire crop in some areas, but a bigger cost would be if the country were to lose its global market share.
Unlike Ethiopia and Uganda, which are Africa's top coffee producers, Kenyan coffee output is under 1 percent of global production but its beans are popular for blends and its buyers have specific volume requirements.
"If you are not able to meet that volume in one, two years, they are traders, so naturally they will look for another coffee to replace your coffee. And when they do that, then they cannot come back, even when you get back to production."
The most immediate solution is for farmers to conserve whatever rainfall they receive through mulching, digging trenches to hold water, pruning, forking and planting shade trees.
"We have no time for research because the problem is with us," Kimemia said. "If we can get agronomic practices that conserve moisture, that is what we need before we talk about new technologies or new varieties that are drought tolerant."

Captain Blight
02-13-2010, 04:34 PM
Coffee grows elsewhere just fine, thankfully. I mean, too bad for kenya, but my personal comfort level is likely to remain unaffected.

johnw
02-13-2010, 04:44 PM
Unless, of course, the warming trend proves to be "global."

shamus
02-13-2010, 05:15 PM
"We have seen trees drying up in some marginal coffee areas"

This is probably the crux of it. It is a familiar story in Australia that various types of agriculture e.g. wheat growing extend periodically into marginal areas when a few years of kind weather occur, and retreat (often permanently due to soil damage) when the reality of ordinary weather cycles sends the optimistic experimenters broke.

PeterSibley
02-13-2010, 05:30 PM
I find coffee trees hard to kill here , a brush hook works ,but not the weather .

PeterSibley
02-13-2010, 05:31 PM
"We have seen trees drying up in some marginal coffee areas"

This is probably the crux of it. It is a familiar story in Australia that various types of agriculture e.g. wheat growing extend periodically into marginal areas when a few years of kind weather occur, and retreat (often permanently due to soil damage) when the reality of ordinary weather cycles sends the optimistic experimenters broke.

Shamus , what was the name of the South Australian wheat line ?

shamus
02-13-2010, 05:37 PM
I can't remember. But there are still solid stone farmhouses north of it half covered in sand. Is that the one you mean?

shamus
02-13-2010, 05:40 PM
Goyder's line?

johnw
02-13-2010, 05:49 PM
"We have seen trees drying up in some marginal coffee areas"

This is probably the crux of it. It is a familiar story in Australia that various types of agriculture e.g. wheat growing extend periodically into marginal areas when a few years of kind weather occur, and retreat (often permanently due to soil damage) when the reality of ordinary weather cycles sends the optimistic experimenters broke.
Of course, coffee is native to East Africa. Generally thought to come originally from Ethiopia...which is also having difficulties.

http://www.cafedirect.co.uk/pdf/press/2009_October_12_CLIMATE_CHANGE_ALREADY_HITTING_WOR LD_COFFEE_&_TEA_FARMERS_HARD.pdf

shamus
02-13-2010, 06:05 PM
The next decade will see existing climatic conditions become increasing chaotic, making many of the
areas in which crops are currently grown unsuitable.

Is that a fact or a prediction?

johnw
02-13-2010, 06:13 PM
Sounds like a forecast. Weathermen get upset if you call it a prediction.

PeterSibley
02-13-2010, 06:13 PM
I can't remember. But there are still solid stone farmhouses north of it half covered in sand. Is that the one you mean?
Goyder's line ..thanks .Totally slipped my mind !

One of those great examples of common sense versus the scientist .

shamus
02-13-2010, 06:35 PM
Maybe they're right, but I'm always a little sceptical about such predictions. I farm myself (not for a living anymore) in a temperate climate which would not be thought of as 'difficult'. Yet rainfall over the last century has cycled irregularly between 400mm in a twelve month period and 1200mm in a twelve month period, with extremes at about 200 and 1800mm. If I knew how to turn an Excel graph into something I could put on Photobucket I'd post a chart. The only reaction to this that I think sensible is to engage in livestock farming where numbers can be quickly adjusted to suit conditions. Permanent plantations are obviously much more susceptible to even slight changes in conditions. These may well be permanent climate changes, or they might be a few years of odd weather.

johnw
02-13-2010, 07:26 PM
Yeah, one thing we know about the weather is, it changes. That doesn't mean we should stop trying to forecast it, though. The medieval warm period saw civilizations fall because of droughts (although the effect in Europe was benign). If we can guess a little better than they could, it might help us adapt.

paladin
02-13-2010, 10:45 PM
I have travelled into both Uganda and Ethiopia.....at the time Ethiopia was trying to increase the land to grow more coffee, they needed better managed irrigation, but it had to be simple.
Uganda had almost exactly the same poblems. They needed pumps, hose etc....but when the people were given money to purchase supplies that bought the cheapest trash they could find and pocketed the majority of the funds. I was there for another reason, and I was about finished and I was asked if I could help with another project, and a very kind offer was made that evening.I asked my host to provide me with a young man,fresh from engineering school, to travel with me and learn. He duplicated the last budget that he gave to the previous group, and my young charge and I carefullu went over the list, purchased all that was listed, a few things to make life easier like a couple/three nice toolboxes for the guys, with the appropriate tools. When we arrived back from Spain, and started to unload the plane, he had it taxied inside a hangar, there was another aircraft inside, their cargo was laid out on the ground, ours started stacking up our equipment as it came off the plane. When it became apparent that more than twice as much cargo was coming off our plane as theirs folks started quietly removing themselves from the scene. I didn't pay much attention to it at first...but I understand that most of them met some very difficult ends. He had a damned good communications system, just no one to operate it..

johnw
02-14-2010, 12:00 AM
I guess human engineering could solve some of these problems...

huisjen
02-14-2010, 09:51 AM
I like tea, usually with milk and honey.

When the cycle reverses and coffee does well in Kenya again (at least for a time), hopefully the fair trade people will step up to the plate and pick up the contracts. Small "boutique" traders may be able to move with an agility that the big guys can't match, and set up new deals with these farmers.

Dan

George Jung
02-14-2010, 10:24 AM
Anyone here ever try SLO roasted coffee out of California? www.sloroasted.com? Roasted fresh just before delivery to your door. I've visited with the enthusiasts at Green coffee and CoffeeGeek (those folk take their coffee real serious - they could be BR!); lots of outlets they've recommended (I suspect larger, geared up a bit more) and they're more boutique, and more costly. Haven't actually tried their products (many advertised as Fair Trade products, as well) as I've been pretty happy with slo roasteds' products. I don't anticipate the end of coffee as we know it - but there are certainly other side-topics that would be interesting. Different preparation methods might be fun, as well.

johnw
02-14-2010, 02:33 PM
I like tea, usually with milk and honey.

When the cycle reverses and coffee does well in Kenya again (at least for a time), hopefully the fair trade people will step up to the plate and pick up the contracts. Small "boutique" traders may be able to move with an agility that the big guys can't match, and set up new deals with these farmers.

Dan
Tea producers are having trouble too.