Latin America Could Lose Up to 90 Percent of its Coffee-Growing Land by 2050

Bees are vital pollinators for coffee crops worldwide.

Bees are vital pollinators for coffee crops worldwide. Bob Peterson/Wikimedia Commons

Studies have previously estimated that the amount of land worldwide suitable for growing coffee could shrink by an estimated 50 percent by 2050 as global temperatures rise, rain patterns change, and ecosystems shift due to climate change. But a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences predicts a far worse situation for Latin America, the world’s largest coffee supplier: The region could lose nearly 90 percent of its coffee-growing land by mid-century.

The study found that coffee-suitable areas in Latin America will decline an estimated 73 to 88 percent by 2050 under various warming scenarios, with the lowlands of Nicaragua, Honduras, and Venezuela being particularly devastated.

The research, conducted by a team of Latin American and U.S. scientists, also examined global warming’s impact on the region’s bee species — which play a vital role in pollinating coffee crops. “Bee richness,” or species diversity, could decrease by as much as 18 percent in the region. But the scientists did find a bit of good news: All coffee-growing regions in Latin America will likely still have at least 5 bee species by 2050. That could mean that with careful crop management and improved agricultural practices, farmers in the region could continue to cultivate coffee beans, though it will be smaller industry than today, the scientists report.