The largest Coffee countries are in jeopardy. What’s the coffee industry up to?

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I have always believed that we make our own destiny. By better understanding the impact we human beings have on nature, we need to learn the impact we are already causing on climate change. What coffee countries are doing about environment ?

Coffee countries: What threatens the production of coffee?

Deforesting, farming and burning fossil release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. By doing that, we are rising the global temperature causing the so-called phenomenon “greenhouse effect”, a natural process in which the Earth’s surface is getting warmer by the gases that are trapped into the atmosphere.

The increase in temperature are threatening the coffee industry; by 2050 there will be half arable land destined for coffee production and the demand will be double.

As the temperature rise up, coffee needs to grow up to the mountain where the temperature is still suitable and the plant are less disease-susceptible. Farmers are now in trouble, especially the smallholders that don’t have too much money and can’t afford any further investment. Climate change are changing the weather patterns and their intensity, increasing flood, storms and droughts.

Harvesting have never been so unpredictable like now because the coffee cherries are ripening faster and irregularly affecting their quality: farmers can’t even predict about harvesting seasons or next planting.

Scientist believe that we can only face this new challenge by acting as soon as possible: hopefully farmers are now adopting new strategies in response to these changes.

Given that the climate change is a worldwide problem, farmers are acting in different ways depending on location.

Which are the coffee countries and Which country is the largest producer of coffee?

Coffee production by country:

According to the World Atlas, the main exporters of coffee beans as of 2019 are:[1]

Rank Country 60 kilogram bags Metric Tons Pounds
1 Brazil 44,200,000 2,652,000 5,714,381,000
2 Vietnam 27,500,000 1,650,000 3,637,627,000
3 Colombia 13,500,000 810,000 1,785,744,000
4 Indonesia 11,000,000 660,000 1,455,050,000
5 Ethiopia 6,400,000 384,000 846,575,000
6 Honduras 5,800,000 348,000 767,208,000
7 India 5,800,000 348,000 767,208,000
8 Uganda 4,800,000 288,000 634,931,000
9 Mexico 3,900,000 234,000 515,881,000
10 Guatemala 3,400,000 204,000 449,743,000
11 Peru 3,200,000 192,000 423,287,000
12 Nicaragua 2,200,000 132,000 291,010,000
13 China(2013/14 est.)[7] 1,947,000 116,820 257,544,000
14 Ivory Coast 1,800,000 108,000 238,099,000
15 Costa Rica 1,492,000 89,520 197,357,000
16 Kenya 833,000 49,980 110,187,000
17 Papua New Guinea 800,000 48,000 105,821,000
18 Tanzania 800,000 48,000 105,821,000
19 El Salvador 762,000 45,720 100,795,000
20 Ecuador 700,000 42,000 92,594,000
21 Cameroon 570,000 34,200 75,398,000
22 Laos 520,000 31,200 68,784,000
23 Madagascar 520,000 31,200 68,784,000
24 Gabon 500,000 30,000 66,138,000
25 Thailand 500,000 30,000 66,138,000
26 Venezuela 500,000 30,000 66,138,000
27 Dominican Republic 400,000 24,000 52,910,000
28 Haiti 350,000 21,000 46,297,000
29 Democratic Republic of the Congo 335,000 20,100 44,312,000
30 Rwanda 250,000 15,000 33,069,000
31 Burundi 200,000 12,000 26,455,000
32 Philippines 200,000 12,000 26,455,000
33 Togo 200,000 12,000 26,455,000
34 Guinea 160,000 9,600 21,164,000
35 Yemen 120,000 7,200 15,873,000
36 Cuba 100,000 6,000 13,227,000
37 Panama 100,000 6,000 13,227,000
38 Bolivia 90,000 5,400 11,904,000
39 Timor Leste 80,000 4,800 10,582,000
40 Central African Republic 65,000 3,900 8,598,000
41 Nigeria 40,000 2,400 5,291,000
42 Ghana 37,000 2,220 4,894,000
43 Sierra Leone 36,000 2,160 4,761,000
44 Angola 35,000 2,100 4,629,000
45 Jamaica 21,000 1,260 2,777,000
46 Paraguay 20,000 1,200 2,645,000
47 Malawi 16,000 960 2,116,000
48 Trinidad and Tobago 12,000 720 1,587,000
49 Zimbabwe 10,000 600 1,322,000
50 Liberia 6,000 360 793,000
51 Zambia 2,000 120 264,000


Largest producer of coffee in the world

coffee countries
Coffee countries: Brazil is the biggest producer of coffee

Brazil ( see the map below)

Coffee production consumption: What measures can be undertaken?

Creating shade by planting banana trees is a common strategy to protect the plants from hotter temperatures. These plants are so important for many reasons: they also help to maintain a biodiversity environment in which bees are free to pollinate coffee blossoms; we also need to remember that coffee that grows in the shade of the trees usually develop more complex flavours.

Plants are not only useful to create shade but also to protect plants from storms, decreasing the impact of strong winds. And more, plants help tackling soil erosion, enriching the soil with their leaves and also help sequestering CO2 emissions in the atmosphere.

Heavy rains and drought affect the production in many ways: they affect the quality of the beans and the coffee yields and they also spread coffee diseases and pests. That’s why now some farmers are building water tanks to save the water they will need during the periods of drought.

And last but not least, intercropping is another way that can help farmers to diversify their crops and to contribute to biodiversity. Some farmers for example are adding cereals, avocado trees, and banana trees to minimise the risk of a bad harvest (loads of coffee places will be no longer suitable to produce coffee so they need to think about moving out of coffee production).

I wrote down about how farmers can tackle the climate change.

But there is also a new hope for the future. Let’s talk about a new class of coffee varieties called F1 hybrids.

 What is a hybrid coffee and what the Best coffee producers in the world are trying to do 

In the last decade researchers discover a new class of coffee varieties and they are currently study a new plant called CentroAmericano, part of the F1 hybrids varietals.

f1 hybrid coffee plant
F1 hybrid coffee plant

CentroAmericano is a crossbreed of two arabica. These plants are much more resistant to disease and produce a much higher yield than any other non-hybrids plants. Some experiments have already started, and some hybrids plants have just scored more than 90 points.

Bear in mind that these hybrids are currently only being tested (introducing new varietals can put a farmer in trouble because it takes many years to a plant to start producing coffee), although they may in future bring breakthroughs in the world of coffee. However, another good reason that can let us hope is that these hybrids are expected to produce coffee cherries within two years since they are planted.

But F1 hybrids are expensive as well: a hybrid variety is about 2,5 times more expensive than any other coffee plants hence it will take loads of time (and money of course) to access to these new plants.

The world of coffee has already started getting into this direction and that’s the only certainty we have at the moment: the coffee plants we are cultivating now will no longer be available soon.

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