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Global Coffee Production and Land Use Change

Authors:
  • Climate Edge Ltd

Abstract and Figures

Global coffee production is growing by about 2% annually, by a mean of 144,400 t yr-1 since 1989. However production is falling in many countries, with a group of 14 countries estimated to be losing production by 48,200 t yr-1. Hence it is likely that new annual coffee production is around 200,000 t yr-1. This figure is not exact because the various official estimates of production differ. It is not clear where this extra coffee is coming from. Sources must either be: technological improvements to increase yields on existing coffee lands (intensification), or conversion to coffee from other crops (switching), or planting on new land (destruction of forest or savannah). An extensive review of published data on coffee land use change suggests that apart from Brazil, where increases in production are driven by technology, in nearly all countries where coffee production is expanding rapidly, it is deforestation that is the primary source of new coffee lands. The yearly increase is likely to be well in excess of 100,000 ha yr-1. The exact figure is impossible to assess because data is inaccurate or lacking. These global changes are currently unaccounted for in the coffee industry's claims of increasing sustainability. It is very likely that the losses of carbon, biodiversity and other ecosystem services caused by global coffee growth are outstripping the various efforts of local and international efforts to improve sustainability of coffee production. In future, to substantiate global coffee's environmental credentials, radically improved understanding and monitoring of its land footprint is urgently needed.
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1
Global Coffee Production and Land Use Change
P.S. BAKER
CABI E-UK, Bakeham Lane, Egham, Surrey, TW20 9TY, UK.
SUMMARY
Global coffee production is growing by about 2% annually, by a mean of 144,400 t yr
-1
since 1989. However production is falling in many countries, with a group of 14
countries estimated to be losing production by 48,200 t yr
-1
. Hence it is likely that new
annual coffee production is around 200,000 t yr
-1
. This figure is not exact because the
various official estimates of production differ.
It is not clear where this extra coffee is coming from. Sources must either be:
technological improvements to increase yields on existing coffee lands
(intensification), or
conversion to coffee from other crops (switching), or
planting on new land (destruction of forest or savannah).
An extensive review of published data on coffee land use change suggests that apart
from Brazil, where increases in production are driven by technology, in nearly all
countries where coffee production is expanding rapidly, it is deforestation that is the
primary source of new coffee lands. The yearly increase is likely to be well in excess of
100,000 ha yr
-1
. The exact figure is impossible to assess because data is inaccurate or
lacking.
These global changes are currently unaccounted for in the coffee industry’s claims of
increasing sustainability. It is very likely that the losses of carbon, biodiversity and
other ecosystem services caused by global coffee growth are outstripping the various
efforts of local and international efforts to improve sustainability of coffee production.
In future, to substantiate global coffee’s environmental credentials, radically improved
understanding and monitoring of its land footprint is urgently needed.
INTRODUCTION
Global coffee production is growing by about 2% annually, but it is not clear where this
extra coffee is coming from. Sources must either be:
technological improvements to increase yields on existing coffee lands
(intensification), or
conversion to coffee from other crops (switching), or
planting on new land (destruction of forest or savannah).
The coffee industry has made notable strides to become more sustainable over recent
years and there are strong signs that this process is becoming ‘mainstream’, with at least
20% of farms now certified under at least one certification scheme. There is no evidence
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however that the current global trend towards sustainable coffee is reducing the rate of
deforestation for new plantings of coffee. The study presented here suggests that the
unregulated and poorly accounted for expansion of coffee lands undermines progress to
true sustainability of coffee at the global scale.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Coffee databases consulted include national production figures from the International
Coffee Organization (ICO); Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAOSTAT) and the
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Only FAOSTAT includes a long term database of land area estimates for coffee, since
1961. Reports by USDA’s global agriculture information network (GAIN) provide
coffee area estimates for most major coffee producing countries since about 1998.
Apart from the databases, a wide range of literature was searched for reports of coffee
land use change (LUC), including peer reviewed publications and other grey literature
(CABDirect.org) as well as the Internet, including unpublished reports, blogs and news
items from reputable press sources.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
Over the past 25 years, since the collapse of the quota system policed by the ICO,
global coffee production has been increasing by a mean of 144,400 t yr
-1
(Figure 1, left).
LITERATURE CITED
[1]
[2]
[3]
Figure 1. Left: world coffee production of all countries (triangles), ten growth countries (diamonds) and
Brazil+Indonesia+Vietnam (squares) since 1989. Right: global coffee production since 1961 and global
production minus the 10 growth countries.
Of the leading 25 coffee countries over the past 25 years, only 9 (Brazil, Ethiopia,
Honduras, Indonesia, India, Malaysia, Nicaragua, Peru and Vietnam) have shown
significant growth according to USDA figures. FAOSTAT data differs in the case of
Malaysia, which suggests production there is falling, and also for China where
production is undoubtedly rising but is not covered by USDA. FAOSTAT
underestimates coffee growth in China, with official data now giving 83,000 t produced
on 93,000 ha in 2013 [1]. ICO data is not considered here because their data cover
neither China nor Malaysia.
3
By including an estimation for China [1] and the USDA version of Malaysian
production this study recognizes 10 growth countries with a combined estimate of
195,100 t yr
-1
increase since 1989; Brazil, Indonesia and Vietnam account for 72% of
these 10 countries’ increase (Figure 1, left). If the 10 growth countries are subtracted
from global totals, a secular decline for all other countries can be observed from about
the time that the ICO quota system ended (Figure 1, right). 14 countries have shown
significant long term decline by a combined mean of 48,200 t yr
-1
since 1989 (Figure 2).
Figure 2. Combined production in Burundi, Cameroon , Colombia, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Dominican
Republic, DRC, Ecuador, El Salvador, Kenya, Madagascar, Mexico, Philippines and Thailand since 1989.
Thus although global production is increasing by nearly 150,000 t yr
-1
,
because so many
countries are declining, there is very likely to be somewhere between 190 and 200,000 t
yr
-1
of new coffee coming onto the market each year. The question is: where is it
coming from?
Accounting for new production
There are two basic possibilities: a) yield increases on existing land, b) new production
from LUC.
Yield increases: of the ten growth countries, only Brazil has convincingly accurate data
on production and area changes. Since 1990 production has been increasing by an
average of 83,700 t yr
-1
whilst coffee area has declined by 10,900 ha yr
-1
, which means
that yield has been increasing by 40.6 kg ha
-1
yr
-1
. Brazil is the only country that has
managed to increase production on a reducing area.
New production: FAOSTAT data suggest that in all countries other than Brazil, new
land is being commissioned for coffee production. USDA GAIN reports also estimate
areas for some major coffee countries over the past 10 to 15 years but they often differ
substantially from those of FAOSTAT. Since all area estimates are those provided by
official national sources and have not been independently verified for accuracy, all
figures must be regarded as only rough estimates. By combining information from
various sources, a range of area change estimates is provided in Table 1.
4
Country Production
change
(t*1000/yr)
Yield
change
kg/ha/yr
Evidence of
deforestation
for coffee?
Range estimates of
annual area change
since 2001 (ha*1000)
Low High
Vietnam
58.6 28.4 Yes + 6.6
(FAO)
+ 32.5 (this
study)
Indonesia
14.8 6.7 Yes - 8.6
(FAO) + 36.5 (GAIN)
Malaysia
3.9 ? No ? ?
Nicaragua
2.8 10.7 No + 2.6
(FAO) + 2.6 (FAO)
Ethiopia
3.6 -18.8 Yes + 31.0
(FA0) + 31.0 (FA0)
India
7.5 6.7 Yes + 4.7
(GAIN)
+ 6.0 (ICB for
2012-17)
Honduras
7.5 13.3 Yes + 2.9
(GAIN) + 5.1 (FAO)
Peru
11.1 15.7 Yes + 6.6
(FAO)
+ 16 (this
study)
China
4.6 ? Circumstantial + 1.5
(FA0) + 25 [ref. 2]
Totals 111.6
47.3 154.7
Table 1. Production, yield and LUC estimates for 9 growth countries where increased production is likely
being caused by land use change.
The column referring to deforestation in Table 1 is derived from a literature search of
more than 100 published papers and reports which are too numerous to cover in this
summary paper.
For countries where there is little or no evidence of technology improvements (i.e. lack
of reports, manuals, papers) and there is peer-reviewed evidence of LUC
(predominantly deforestation), this study concludes that deforestation is the primary
driver of most of the coffee industry’s extra production and is likely to be in excess of
100,000 ha yr
-1
. This study further concludes that global data on coffee production and
LUC is completely inadequate for this era of increasing claims of coffee sustainability
and mounting pressure from climate change.
LITERATURE CITED
[1] Fu, L. (2013). China Coffee Industry Development and Government Policy.
Presentation at the ICO 50th Anniversary meetings, Belo Horizonte 9-13 September
2013 http://www.ico.org/documents/cy2012-13/presentations/pscb-china.pdf
[2] Zhang, H., Li, J., Zhou, H., Chen, Z., Song, G., Peng, Z., Pereira, A., Silva, M. C.,
Varzea, V., (2012). Arabica coffee production in the Yunnan Province of China. ASIC
24th International Conference on Coffee Science, Costa Rica 11-16 November 2012.
... This additional growth will occur through technological improvements to increase yields on existing coffee lands (intensification), conversion to coffee from other crops (switching), or planting coffee on new land (destruction of forest or savannah) (International Coffee Organization, 2019). While technological improvements increased coffee production in Brazil, for the majority of countries in Asia, forest conversion is the primary driver of increased production (Baker, 2014). In fact, Baker (2014) estimates that the yearly increase of coffee land reaches about 100,000 hectares. ...
... While technological improvements increased coffee production in Brazil, for the majority of countries in Asia, forest conversion is the primary driver of increased production (Baker, 2014). In fact, Baker (2014) estimates that the yearly increase of coffee land reaches about 100,000 hectares. Between the 1990s and 2015, nine countries have shown an increase in coffee production, which include Vietnam (58.6 thousand tonnes of additional coffee annually), Indonesia (14.8 thousand tonnes), India (7.5 thousand tonnes), China (4.6 thousand tonnes), and Malaysia (3.9 thousand tonnes). ...
... For Vietnam, this change has been particularly dramatic, as it rose to become the world's second largest coffee producer (Simoes & Hidalgo, 2011), a change that was made possible through significant forest conversion (Drolette, 2013;Meyfroidt et al., 2013;Stibig et al., 2007). Similar evidence exists for the other top producing nations (Gaveau et al., 2009;O'Brien & Kinnaird, 2003), while in China and Malaysia, increases in coffee production occurred through a combination of intensification, switching, and land cover change (Baker, 2014). ...
Chapter
The loss of Asian forests represents one of the most significant changes in contemporary land cover. Between 2000 and 2020 alone, an area twice the size of Malaysia has lost its tree cover as measured by Earth observation data. These trends have significant repercussions for greenhouse gas emissions, carbon storage, the conservation of biodiversity, and the wellbeing of Indigenous Peoples and local communities (IPLCs), making Asian deforestation a phenomenon of global concern. There are many immediate factors that drive deforestation across Asia, but the conversion to commodity agriculture is the leading cause. Most notably, the expansion of oil palm and rubber plantations by both multinational corporations and smallholders has led to dramatic conversion of forests. The production of timber as well as pulp and paper has further contributed to significant deforestation, with the evolution of each sector often driven by government policies, such as logging bans. However, it is the underlying drivers (i.e., distal and proximate causes) that determine where and when commodity production displaces forest cover. They are particularly challenging to tackle in a globalized world, where consumption patterns driven by local population and income growth lead to environmental and social change in distant producer countries, including in Asia. Certification programs and legality requirements have been put in place to address these externalities with varying success. Deforestation in Asia is also facilitated by weak governance and regulatory frameworks, where forest rights are often unclear, and financial, technological, and human resources for forest monitoring are limited. Several contemporary forest governance strategies seek to promote sustainable management of Asian forests. Financial mechanisms such as reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) and payments for ecosystem services (PES) schemes seek to provide economic incentives for forest conservation. Pledges and activities to remove deforestation from commodity supply chains seek to respond to consumer demand, promote corporate environmental and social responsibility, and reduce the extent to which commodity supply chains contribute to Asian deforestation. And multiple state-led initiatives across Asia to empower IPLCs aim to align forest management objectives between national governments, subnational administrations, and local people. Assessing the impact of interventions related to financial mechanisms, corporate responsibility, and local forest governance will be critical to shaping the future of Asian forest cover change.
... Plants grew in native forest stands. Conventional commercial intentions have since determined acceptable farming practices, removing forest stands and increasing single crop intensification (Giungato et al., 2008;Jha et al., 2014;Baker, 2014;Vogt, 2019c;Nesper et al., 2019) to secure yield by quantity and influence coffee farming techniques by requiring conventional monoculture farming approaches. Coffea varieties are often selected according to productive ability and facilitated harvest (Vogt, 2011(Vogt, , 2019cd) therefore only a few varieties are farmed for commercial purposes in simplified systems. ...
... Coffea varieties are often selected according to productive ability and facilitated harvest (Vogt, 2011(Vogt, , 2019cd) therefore only a few varieties are farmed for commercial purposes in simplified systems. Subsequently, conventional coffee farming practices contribute to environmental degradation (Beyene et al., 2012;Jha et al., 2014;Baker, 2014;, particularly when farmed intensively, with variable societal benefit (O'Connell, 2003;Lambin and Geist, 2006), including inconsistent income from coffee (ICO, 2016). The inconsistency in benefit has not significantly changed market values for intensified farming with the exception of market value allocated to various sustainability coffee labels (Soler et al., 2017) and price premiums offered by specialty markets. ...
Article
Coffee by-products are a renewable, plentiful, cost-effective, and mostly untapped resource that could be used as a biofuel feedstock. However, the energy efficiency and biofuel yields are mostly determined by the biofuel production technologies. Pretreatment procedure, hydrolysis methods, fermentation methods, oil to biodiesel conversion techniques, binders employed, applying pressure and temperature are the main factors to improve the biofuel yields from coffee by-products. This paper examines state-of-the-art methods for increasing biogas, bio-ethanol, biodiesel, briquettes, and pellets outputs from coffee by-products. Pretreatment and co-digestion of coffee by-products with other low carbon to nitrogen ratio animal manure boost the biogas yield of coffee by-products, which is also discussed. A yield of bio-ethanol from coffee by-products was also improved using advanced pretreatment procedures, production processes, and the use of genetically modified yeast strains that ferment the majority of sugar monomers. Additionally, oil extraction methods from spent coffee grounds were reviewed, as well as optimizing biodiesel yield from spent coffe grounds oil. The process of making briquettes and pellets, as well as the types of binders utilized, are discussed. The main novelty of this review is on improving biofuel yields such as biogas, bio-ethanol, biodiesel, briquettes, and pellets from the entire dry cherry coffee beans processing residues, wet coffee (coffee pulp or peeled) beans processing residues, and optimizing oil and biodiesel yield from spent coffee grounds.
China Coffee Industry Development and Government Policy. Presentation at the ICO 50th Anniversary meetings, Belo Horizonte 9-13
  • L Fu
Fu, L. (2013). China Coffee Industry Development and Government Policy. Presentation at the ICO 50th Anniversary meetings, Belo Horizonte 9-13 September 2013 http://www.ico.org/documents/cy2012-13/presentations/pscb-china.pdf
China Coffee Industry Development and Government Policy. Presentation at the ICO 50th Anniversary meetings
  • L Fu
Fu, L. (2013). China Coffee Industry Development and Government Policy. Presentation at the ICO 50th Anniversary meetings, Belo Horizonte 9-13 September 2013 http://www.ico.org/documents/cy2012-13/presentations/pscb-china.pdf