PlantwisePlus Blog

Roasted Arabica coffee beans. Arabica coffee is highly prized as having the best flavour and quality of all coffee varieties, but the future of Arabica coffee is threatened by the impacts of climate change © Sage Ross, via Wikimedia Commons (License CC-BY-SA 3.0, 2.5, 2.0, 1.0)

Coffee (Coffea) is the one of the world’s favourite drinks and the second most traded commodity after oil, accounting for annual retail value of US$ 90 billion. The two main species used in the production of coffee are Arabica coffee (Coffea arabica), which accounts for 70% of coffee production, and Robusta coffee (Coffea canephora). The productivity of Arabica and the distribution of many coffee pests and diseases are strongly linked to climate and seasonality. A series of recent studies have forecast the predicted effects of climate change on both the present and future distribution of Arabica coffee and the effects of climate change on the distribution and lifecycle of the world’s worst coffee pest, the Coffee Berry Borer (Hypothenemus hampei).

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts that average global temperatures will be 1.8°C to 4°C higher by the end of the 21st Century. In the last 10 years the global temperature has risen by 0.7°C, which may seem like a small amount, but negative impacts on coffee production in numerous regions in the world have been detected as a result. A study by a research team from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew and the Environment and Coffee Forest Forum in Ethiopia focused on climatic modelling of the present and future predicted distribution of Arabica coffee. The models predict that climate change will have a negative impact on Arabica, with the most favourable outcome based on analysis of actual data suggesting a 65% reduction in the number of pre-existing climatically suitable locations, and at worst total extinction in the next 70 years. It is expected in the next 7 years that the outer edges of the main South West Ethiopia distribution, several of the Bale mountains in Ethiopia, the Boma Plateau in South Sudan and Mt Marsabit in northern Kenya will be bioclimatically unsuitable, leaving Arabica populations in severe stress and high risk of extinction.

The distribution of coffee pests and diseases are also likely to alter in view of climate change. The response of Coffee Berry Borer to climate change has been noted before. In 1984 the Coffee Berry Borer was unable to complete more than 1 generation per year in South West Ethiopia due to low temperatures. Now, due to rising temperatures in the area it is able to complete 1 or 2 generation per season and is widespread in the region.  A study conducted by researchers from the Institute of Plant Diseases and Plant Protection and the International Center of Insect Physiology and Ecology in Nairobi used climate models to predict the effects of climate change on the Coffee Berry Borer. The Coffee Berry Borer is forecast to worsen in the current Arabica producing areas of Ethiopia, the Ugandan part of Lake Victoria and Mount Elgon regions, Mount Kenya and the Kenyan side of Mount Elgon and most of Rwanda and Burundi. The research also suggests that the number of Coffee Berry Borer generations per year is set to increase in many Arabica producing areas, even in high altitude areas currently unsuitable for the pest, with serious implications for Arabica production and livelihoods in East Africa. The Plantwise Pest Distribution Map can be used to see these affected regions on a map and to view Coffee Berry Borer records from these countries.

It is has been suggested that one way to adapt to rising temperatures in coffee producing regions could be to introduce shade trees in plantations to help protect coffee plants from higher temperatures. The benefits of shade trees are currently being researched in a number of studies. It is hoped that further research can be used to assist in the development of an adaption program for climate change on coffee production, which is vital since 70% of the world’s coffee is grown by small scale subsistence farmers, with more than 100 million people depending on the crop for their livelihoods.

To find out more about CABI coffee projects across the world, including a project tackling the Coffee Berry Borer, visit here:

Visit the Plantwise Knowledge Bank to find out more information on the distribution of the Coffee Berry Borer using the Pest Distribution Map:

To find out more on Integrated Pest Management of the Coffee Berry Borer ( and the impacts of climate change on the Coffee Berry Borer ( follow these links to previous Plantwise Blog posts.


Jaramillo J, Muchugu E, Vega FE, Davis A, Borgemeister C, & Chabi-Olaye A (2011). Some like it hot: the influence and implications of climate change on coffee berry borer (Hypothenemus hampei) and coffee production in East Africa. PloS one, 6 (9) PMID: 21935419

Jaramillo J, Chabi-Olaye A, Kamonjo C, Jaramillo A, Vega FE, Poehling HM, & Borgemeister C (2009). Thermal tolerance of the coffee berry borer Hypothenemus hampei: predictions of climate change impact on a tropical insect pest. PloS one, 4 (8) PMID: 19649255

Davis AP, Gole TW, Baena S, & Moat J (2012). The Impact of Climate Change on Indigenous Arabica Coffee (Coffea arabica): Predicting Future Trends and Identifying Priorities. PloS one, 7 (11) PMID: 23144840


  1. kategaya on 19th March 2014 at 8:33 PM

    we thank plantwise for the work is doing to enlighten, refreshing our minds in as far as our our extension work is concerned, for Uganda case things are going to be okay, because is likely to increase food production as plant diseases and pests being diagnosed at plant clinics. support extension workers with transport in the field, because the available transport is still wanting in some districts such as rakai. thanks kategaya

    • Abigail Rumsey on 20th March 2014 at 8:51 AM

      Thank you for your comments, Kategaya.

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