In a new study by the Kew Royal Botanic Gardens, scientists suggest that factors such as climate change, deforestation, droughts, and plant diseases are putting the future of coffee at risk.
Out of 124 types of wild coffee, 75 are at risk of extinction. About 35 of the 124 species grow in areas with no conservation protections.
Arabica is considered at high risk. A past study has shown that wild Arabica could be extinct by 2080. The arabica grown in the world’s coffee plantations are from minimal genetic stock and are unlikely to have the flexibility required to cope with climate change and other threats, such as pests and diseases.
Aaron P. Davis, head of coffee research at Kew, who co-led the work, said, “The important thing to remember is that coffee requires a forest habitat for its survival. With so much deforestation going on around the world, wild coffee species are being impacted at an alarming rate.”
“Targeted action is urgently needed in specific tropical countries, particularly in Africa and particularly in forested areas which are being hit hard by climate change.”
“The study’s findings are not just important for coffee drinkers. There are many countries which depend on coffee for them … bulk of their export earnings. It’s estimated there are 100 million people producing coffee in farms around the world.”
Moreover, the study urges the government and commercial producers to increase protections for coffee species and stockpile more seeds.
- Aaron P. Davis, High extinction risk for wild coffee species and implications for coffee sector sustainability. DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aav3473