Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Could Our Morning Cup of Coffee Soon Be At Risk?

You get up, plod over to the kitchen and flick the kettle on. Or rev up the coffee machine. It's the way many of us start every day, but according to the people at Cafédirect, coffee could soon be seen as an expensive luxury rather than an everyday pick me up.

They published a report this week, called Coffee Climate Crisis, which highlights the environmental problems that many coffee growers are facing around the world. They say that three quarters of the coffee produced around the world is grown by smallholders, who are already facing some of the effects of climate change, including flooding, pests, drought and crop disease. The answer, they say, is to buy our coffee from responsible sources and organisations that are committed to supporting growers and helping them to adapt to these issues.

Your morning cup of coffee.... but could its days be numbered?

The report gives the case of a project called Reforestation Sierra Piura which Cafédirect carried out alongside the CEPICAFE co-operative in Northern Peru. Responding to these environmental changes, they helped fund a reforestation programme higher up in the Andes. This has helped to stop landslides and flooding having such a devastating impact on plantations further down the mountains.

Speaking about the report, Nicola Pearson, Commercial Director at Cafédirect said: "Climate change is now the biggest challenge that smallholder farmers are facing today. The story in the report is just one case study of the severe and devastating impact that it is having on smallholder farmers and their crops." She added that although the co-operative in the report, (6,600 Peruvian farmers) are adapting to the problems faced by climate change, more needs to be done, as this is just a tiny portion of farmers. She says there are around 25 million coffee farming families in 60 countries around the world.

By investing in and supporting these farmers, we might be able to save our morning cup of coffee. But what can we do? The answer is simple. Buy from responsible organisations that invest in projects such as this one in Peru, and help farmers keep their livelihoods and give them the tools to continue producing great coffee. If we don't, they say that coffee is going to get a whole lot less affordable and could disappear as a crop altogether.

I'll give Nicola the last word here: "If we don't act now," she said, "we will all be left counting the cost. Coffee will become more expensive, its quality will decline, and it may even become harder to get hold of. It doesn't bear thinking about. We don't want to have to imagine a world without coffee."

Could you imagine a world without coffee? Were you aware of the environmental problems faced by coffee growers around the world? Does this worry you? Or do you think it's not that big a problem? Let me know in the comments below...