WaPost: The Desperate Search for Climate Change Resistant Coffee Plants

Essay by Eric Worrall

Our heroic coffee explorers trekking through remote African wilderness, searching for species which can withstand global warming.

To survive climate change, coffee must embrace new and resilient beans

By Marissa Garcia
June 9, 2022 at 8:00 a.m. EDT

The research team’s task was as lofty as the mountains they scaled in December 2018. Their mission? To find a coffee species not seen for nearly 70 years in Sierra Leone.

The species, though lost to the wild, lived on in textbooks. Daniel Sarmu, a local researcher on the team, had searched from “field to field” for four years. If any peculiar plant caught his eye, he’d collect a sample, hoping it’d be the lost species. But each genetic test came back negative; the search carried onward.

Until the expedition in 2018, when researchers found one plant of Coffea stenophylla in the largely deforested Kasewe Hills.

The moment was bittersweet. To regrow the elusive species, they needed to cross this plant with another — but a second stenophylla plant was not in sight. A few days later, they ventured to Kambui Hills. After just an hour of hiking — a drop in the bucket compared with Sarmu’s four-year search — they uncovered 20 plants. At all life stages, stenophylla was flourishing: seedlings, saplings and trees.

“Then, we knew we had something to build upon in terms of rescuing the species,” recalls Jeremy Haggar, a researcher on the team and a professor of agroecology at the University of Greenwich.

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-solutions/2022/06/09/climate-change-coffee-stenophylla-arabica-robusta/

Let us hope our intrepid explorers discover their magic beans.

via Watts Up With That?


June 10, 2022 at 12:58PM

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