Climate change is having an impact everywhere and causing changes across many areas. Sea levels could rise by as much as 50cm by the year 2100, and average global temperatures have been forecasted to rise by around 2.5 degrees Celsius over the same period. The issue is so significant that the UN Sustainable Development Goal number 13 is dedicated to climate change, both mitigating its devastating effects and adapting to the conditions that it creates. 2018’s UN climate talks, known as COP24, generated huge discussion around a changing climate, and the direction of future action.
In agriculture, the unpredictability of weather patterns is a major problem. This uncertainty is troubling for farmers, who rely on awareness of weather patterns to grow, and maintain their crops. This includes the ‘coffee belt’, the regions of the world where the climate is well suited to growing coffee plants, with the most relevant ecosystem, climate, volcanic soil and proximity to the Equator. Kenya and Rwanda are two such countries in the coffee belt.
Farmers in these countries have long relied on the advice of agronomists for getting the most out of their coffee trees. The agronomists, often experienced farmers themselves, advise on best farming practices, and the application of ‘inputs’ such as fertiliser, pesticides, and fungicides. These inputs are crucial to large coffee bean yields, protecting the trees from pests and diseases, and maximising crop health. Nobody knows the local conditions of the coffee-producing regions of Kenya and Rwanda better than the local agronomists.
To be as effective as possible, these inputs must be applied at the right time. For example, pesticides and fungicides should be applied when the local climate is approaching conditions that are likely to encourage an outbreak of a particular disease or pest. Furthermore, the inputs can be expensive, so their effective use is also a financial imperative for the farmer.
Decisions made by coffee farmers are therefore supported by the advice of trained and experienced agronomists, but climate change has introduced an unpredictability to local weather patterns. Extreme weather events, such as large amounts of rainfall or novel record temperatures, will become more common. In order to continue to best support the coffee farmers, agronomists must be able to add more certainty to the 25-30 critical decisions they make about crop management each growing season.
Satellite-enabled technology can put agronomists, and coffee farmers, back in control. ACCORD uses accurate, highly localised weather and climate information to tell coffee growers the best time to apply inputs of fertiliser, pesticides, and fungicides. These predictions of fluctuations in the local micro-climate can help reduce the impact of climate change on coffee yields. Securing higher coffee yields protects the incomes of farmers, ensuring that they can continue to support the wellbeing of their families, and improve their quality of life.
Read more about how the ACCORD service can improve coffee yields and quality, while eliminating the costs of wasted inputs.