Source: International Atomic Energy Agency – IAEA
In Costa Rica, most coffee plantations rest on small to medium plots of land. These family-owned farms oftentimes rely on seasonal workers to pick the coffee beans by hand. This process is timely and intensive, requiring up to 14 000 workers from Costa Rica and Panama during the harvesting season.
But as climate change exacerbates weather patterns that are unsuitable for coffee plants, seasonal work opportunities diminish, impacting livelihoods. Changing rainfall patterns and rising temperatures have also been found to shorten the time it takes for a coffee plant with leaf rust to become infectious ꟷ increasing the rate of infection and the spread.
Working with the IAEA and FAO, the Coffee Institute of Costa Rica (ICAFE) has been researching the impact of coffee leaf rust throughout the country and how to manage it. With records since 2010 showing a rise in temperature and changes in rainfall patterns, coffee growers are finding that they cannot harvest their crops at the usual times.
“The reduction in productivity affects the income of growers, reducing the resources available to assist the plantation and putting the conservation of the farms for future generations at risk. This may affect the future model of land possession in our country,” said Reina Cespedes, a biotechnologist at ICAFE. “Advancing the genetics of coffee trees is essential to improve the quality of life for coffee-producing families, maintain land possession and contribute to environmental sustainability.”