The socio-economic effects of COVID-19 will likely cause another serious production crisis in the coffee industry, according to a study conducted by Rutgers University.
The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, included researchers from the University of Arizona, University of Hawaii at Hilo, CIRAD, University of Santa Clara, Purdue University West Lafayette and University of Exeter.
âAny major impact on the global coffee industry will have serious implications for millions of people around the world, including the retail coffee market here in the United States,â said lead author Kevon Rhiney, Professor assistant in the geography department at Rutgers. New Brunswick.
Coffee is one of the most traded agricultural products in the world, supporting the livelihoods of around 100 million people around the world, especially in low-income countries. But the industry has long struggled with many stresses, including institutional reforms, volatile market prices, extreme weather, and plant diseases and pests. And over the past year, COVID-19 has emerged as a new threat to the coffee industry by acting as a potential trigger for new outbreaks of coffee leaf rust, the world’s most serious disease of coffee.
The researchers drew on recent studies of the fungal disease, which has severely affected several countries in Latin America and the Caribbean over the past decade. They examined how past epidemics have been linked to poor harvests and investments in coffee plantations, and how the impacts of COVID-19 on work, unemployment, stay-at-home orders and international border policies could affect investments in coffee factories and in turn create conditions conducive to future shocks.
The researchers concluded that the socio-economic disruption of COVID-19 is likely to drive the coffee industry into another serious production crisis.
“Our article shows that coffee leaf rust outbreaks are complex socio-economic phenomena and that disease management also involves a mixture of scientific and social solutions,” Rhiney said. âThere is no ‘quick fix’ that will just make this problem go away. Tackling coffee leaf rust involves more than controlling pests; it also involves protecting the livelihoods of farmers in order to build resilience to future shocks. “
The researchers said the challenges posed by coffee leaf rust reflect a trend of disease-induced collapses in recent years in major global commodity markets such as bananas and cocoa, where large-scale cultivation unique cultures and the homogenization of plant characteristics facilitate the spread of disease. emerge and spread.
They conclude that the COVID-19 pandemic highlights the interdependence of the global coffee system as both a vulnerability and a source of strength.
âThe spread of COVID-19 and coffee leaf rust both reveal systemic weaknesses and inequalities in our social and economic systems,â Rhiney said. According to the team, âSo we can only have a healthy coffee system by strengthening the well-being of the most vulnerable. It is essential to recognize the key roles of work and healthy ecosystems in producing and sustaining profits. the status quo and current coffee value chains to better recognize the value produced by smallholder producers, while elevating essential but under-recognized parts of the production process, such as human health, food safety and sustainability. “
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