Ethiopia's coffee farms must move to survive climate change

A new study has warned that Ethiopia's coffee production is at risk over climate change, forcing farmers to move their farms or lose their crop. The troubles result from a combination of increased temperatures and decreased rainfall, reducing the number of places in which coffee can be grown. In just a handful of decades, 60-percent of Ethiopia's coffee farm land could become unusable.

The study has found that Ethiopian coffee farmers must change where they grow coffee beans or risk losing their farm — and coffee crops — in the relatively near future. This doesn't mean the future is hopeless, however; the scientists found that moving crops to more suitable regions within the country could not only sustain the coffee production, but even improve it.

Coffee production in Ethiopia has been decreasing over past years, forcing farmers to seek land elsewhere, while the region's economy suffers for it. About 15 million people work in the nation's coffee industry, which rakes in about $800 million every year. Loss of the coffee crops would be devastating for the farmers and the local economy. Unpredictable regions in Ethiopia have become even less predictable as rainfall decreases; dry seasons have become even harder to withstand.

According to this latest study, one of Ethiopia's most plentiful coffee production centers, Harar, will most likely be eradicated within the next century. However, farmers may be able to avoid the destruction of the nation's coffee production if they begin transitioning farm lands to higher grounds, taking advantage of the ample land that exists at higher altitudes. These regions are estimated to remain suitable for coffee production decades into the future, but transitions to the new regions must start immediately.