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Could Arabica coffee soon be extinct?

Large-scale deforestation and climate change are putting the wild Arabica coffee bean at risk of potential extinction, say experts.

Image: fotogiunta via Shutterstock

LARGE SCALE DEFORESTATION in coffee-producing parts of Africa could lead to the extinction of the Arabica coffee bean within the next 70 years, according to a study by scientists at the Kew Royal Botanic Gardens.

Working in collaboration with scientists in Ethiopia, English botanists reported that climate change alone could lead to the extinction of the wild Arabica coffee bean which is considered important for the sustainability of the industry due to its significant genetic diversity.

Wild coffee beans are not generally used in commercially processed coffee, but experts point out that the ‘domestic’ Arabica coffee grown in coffee plantations across the world are of very limited genetic stock and therefore unlikely to have the flexibility necessary to deal with challenges like climate change or disease.

Wild Arabica coffee grows in countries like Ethiopia, Brazil and Colombia and is used to make about 70 per cent of the world’s coffee, according to the recent study published in PLoS One.

Justin Moat, Head of Spatial Information Science at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, said that the “worst case scenario” drawn from the team’s analysis indicated that wild Arabica could be extinct by 2080.

As the second-most traded commodity after oil – and one crucial to the economies of several countries – the damaging impact of climate change on commercial coffee production worldwide is “worrying”, according to the researchers.

Read: Which profession drinks the most coffee?

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