T 5.06 Action Plan: Relocation — Too Hot

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There is a limit to how much climate conditioning can be achieved by shade trees, mulching, cover crops, and irrigation. Where on-farm adaptation can go no further, the only clear action plan at present for the continuation of coffee farming is the relocation of farms to areas of low climatic risk. The most severely affected regions for coffee production are expected to be lowland areas, which means relocation will mostly be to higher altitudes. Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) can be used to calculate the ‘upslope potential’ in certain regions. 


Upslope Potential

The upslope potential of many countries, including many in Southeast Asia, involves a potential shift into forested areas that have never been used for agricultural purposes. Even an agroforestry model it is likely to lead to losses of biodiversity in these areas. (S. M. Philpott et al., 2008) However, shade farming practices have been shown to maintain more carbon in the soil and produce more aboveground biomass than any other land use types. A study in Mexico found that organic coffee shaded by Inga trees maintained carbon aboveground (56.9 tons of carbon per ha) and in the soil (166 tons of carbon per ha) to an extent equal to that of nearby forests (Soto-Pinto et al., 2010).

Fortunately, Ethiopia displays good potential for shifting farming to higher elevations. This chart illustrates Ethiopia’s projected 41% loss of available farming land by 2070. 

Source: A Davies (2013)


According to Davies, taking into account Ethiopia’s upslope potential, projections are slightly less frightening, at an expected 22% loss in overall potential farming area. The chart below suggests Ethiopia has a considerable amount of unexplored upslope potential, covering a region three times greater than it currently occupies for coffee. This should be reassuring news for coffee’s oldest and most unique producer.

Source: A Davies (2013)


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