Helping coffee crops cope with the climate challenge

5 min·8 Mar, 2022

Australians love their coffee. Around three quarters of us have at least one cup of coffee every day. As a nation, that adds up to around 37 million kilograms of coffee annually.

So what if our daily cuppa was under threat? According to a recent study the world could lose half of its best coffee-growing land because of the effects of climate change.

High in the southern mountains of Rwanda, farmers grow what’s considered to be some of the best quality coffee in the world. Its volcanic soil gives the beans a rich flavour that attracts premium prices internationally.

But in recent years, the industry has been grappling with a range of climate change related issues which have seen a decrease in production. That’s a worrying prospect for the 400,000 famers across the country who rely on the coffee industry for their livelihoods.

So how is climate change impacting coffee crops?

In Rwanda, farmers usually plan their farming around the annual dry and rainy seasons. But climate change has made the usually predictable weather patterns more erratic and extreme.

Torrential flooding washes away the famously nutrient-rich soil; and prolonged droughts prevent the all-important growth of microorganisms that are needed to replenish it and make it fertile again.

Root Capital supports Rwandan coffee farmers

“Without those nutrients or consistent water, the coffee plants struggle to grow meaning they’re producing fewer beans every year or dying altogether,”

Root Capital

But expert advisors from Root Capital have been working closely with farmers to help them get the most out of their land and cope with the ever-changing conditions to secure the future of the industry.

Root Capital is an international non-profit organisation that partners with small and growing agricultural businesses to address their urgent challenges.

They provide catalytic finance and business development to small-scale farmers across the globe and deliver projects with a particular focus on access to finance, climate action, gender equality, and next generation jobs.

Morris Family Foundation has provided financial support for Root Capital for the past four years, backing projects in Latin America, Southeast Asia, and Africa as part of its commitment to sustainable agriculture.

Root Capital’s work in coffee-growing regions in Rwanda has seen them helping farmers implement regenerative agriculture practices which not only improve yields in the short term, but also help to replenish the soil for generations to come.

They’ve also partnered with coffee producers to provide internships, in-person training, and expert advice in field crop production and soil management to build climate resilience for farmers in the region.

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