Areas suitable for growing these crops will likely expand at higher altitudes and latitudes as temperatures rise.
Climate change will be having its impacts felt in a myriad of ways in coming decades and one way will involve depriving farmers in tropical countries of suitable conditions to grow important crops such as coffee, cashew nuts and avocados, scientists say.
While there has been plenty of research indicating that growers of highly sought Arabica coffee beans in several tropical nations will be facing increased challenges as a result of warming temperatures, cashew nuts and avocados, two other important crops, have so far been largely overlooked.
In a new study scientists at Zurich University of Applied Sciences in Switzerland have set out to remedy that shortcoming by examining how suitable different regions of the world will be for growing coffee, cashews, and avocados in 2050 based on climate change projections.
Out of the three crops, the scientists say, Arabica coffee will be the most susceptible to climate change, which is hardly surprising since the plants are known to be less tolerant of rising temperatures. What this means, however, is that major producers such as Brazil, Colombia, Vietnam and Indonesia will see their outputs greatly reduced by the middle of the century.
When it comes to cashews, meanwhile, suitable regions will decrease in major producers such as India, the Ivory Coast and Benin. Suitable areas for avocados will also decline for some major producers, including the Dominican Republic, Peru, and Indonesia, the scientists say.
At the same time, “areas suitable for all three crops may expand at higher altitudes and latitudes, especially for cashews and avocados. Areas with greater future suitability are located in regions such as the United States, Argentina, China, and East Africa,” the researchers say.
In other words, while some countries will lose out, others will gain, at least when it comes to the growing of coffee, cashews and avocados.
Research like this can be useful tools for affected nations to enact policies aimed at climate change adaptations. These could involve breeding for varieties of plants that can withstand higher temperatures and prolonged droughts or both, in addition to relocating agricultural production to new, more suitable locations wheverer possible.
Importantly, however, agricultural production will also need to be made more sustainable in the process of expansion because many current practices are inflicting grave damage on the environment as it is. Intensive agriculture has been driving the loss of wildlife habitats and the pollution of soil and water sources, among other ills.
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