By Meenu Johnkutty ’21
For a number of years, many scientific models predicted a decline in bee populations due to the increase in the use of bee-killing pesticides in industrial agriculture. As global temperatures continue to rise, it is expected that biodiversity among bees will also continue to decrease, jeopardizing the pollination of many crops. As pollinators are essential to the pollination of the coffea plant and therefore the production of coffee beans, the relationship between bees and coffee is a subject of concern among climate change researchers.
According to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, areas suitable for growing coffee in Latin America will drop 73 to 88 percent by 2050. Researchers are preparing for the worst by deducing solutions based on present and future models and recommending strategies to those who will be affected by the biodiversity crisis. The farmers whose lands will no longer be suitable for coffee production were advised to switch to different crops. In other areas where bee diversity will decrease to a lesser extent, researchers recommended that cultivators increase the number of bee habitats to preserve native bee populations. Additionally, since coffea prefers to grow in the shade of tall trees, researchers advised that farmers germinate tree species that would be suitable for bees as well, thereby creating a “win-win” situation.
Using effective strategies to mitigate the biodiversity crisis is essential to combating the effects of climate change. Heeding the advice of these scientists may prove to be vital to coffee sustainability in areas in which the economy depends on this crop.
- P. Imbach, et. al., Coupling of pollination services and coffee suitability under climate change. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 114, (2017). doi: 10.1073/pnas.1617940114.
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