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Smallholder coffee farmers fight climate change and oversupply

Smallholder coffee farmers fight climate change and oversupply

Global coffee powerhouse Brazil sees sales to China soar, with Central American producers unable to compete

In October 2018, a caravan of over 7,000 Central American migrants set off on a perilous journey by foot to try and cross Mexico and eventually reach the US.

Around three-quarters of people who attempt to migrate in large groups from Mexico to the US are from Honduras, according to a UN survey of people arriving at Tijuana in autumn 2018. Of those surveyed, 28% had worked in agriculture.

Honduras is the world’s sixth-largest producer of coffee, but in recent years poor weather and a deteriorating economic climate have driven scores of farmers to abandon their farms and flee north. In 2019 alone, land use for coffee production in Honduras decreased by 5%, or 19,000 hectares.

Coffee farms in Central America are particularly vulnerable to climate change, as small variations in temperature and rainfall can have a significant impact on yields and profitability.

“Arabica [coffee] requires cool temperatures of 18-21C and very specific amounts of rainfall, conditions that are generally found in the tropical highlands. As temperatures rise, areas where coffee can grow become more limited,” according to Raina Lang from Conservation International.
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