Posts Tagged ‘Climate change’

Press Release

Virginia Tech University

Friday, December 19, 2014

Blacksburg, VA, USA

University awarded $18 million to implement integrated pest management program in developing countries
Virginia Tech has won a new $18 million, five-year grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) for a research program that will work to raise the standard of living of people around the world through environmentally sound agricultural practices as part of Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative.
The Feed the Future Innovation Lab (formerly Collaborative Research Support Program) for Integrated Pest Management will conduct research and extension activities with farmers, counterpart universities, and host-country government research institutes to implement ecologically sustainable pest and disease control strategies. The predecessor programs to this new award have been led by Virginia Tech University for the past 21 years.
USAID recently announced that Virginia Tech would once again lead the program, a move that represents a vote of confidence in the work that has been ongoing since 1993. The new program will have a strong foundation in areas such as sustainable intensification, ecological service provision, ecological research, and empowerment of women farmers.
“We’ve been forming partnerships, conducting research, and getting to know farmers all over the world for the past two decades,” said Rangaswamy “Muni” Muniappan, who has led the Innovation Lab since 2006. “Our work has shown great results, and we look forward to continuing the fight against hunger.”
The competitively-awarded program will address new and emerging pest problems that plague farmers in the developing world, as well as model and manage the spread of invasive species. Program scientists will also be investigating ways to preserve biodiversity and offset the impacts of climate change on agricultural pests and diseases.
The new Innovation Lab, managed by Virginia Tech’s Office of International Research, Education, and Development, will commit its core resources to Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania in Africa and to Bangladesh, Burma, Cambodia, Nepal, and Vietnam in Asia.
The Asian arm of the program will include two main sub-programs: one focused on rice in Burma and Cambodia, and a second on horticultural crops in Cambodia, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Vietnam. The Nepal program will additionally address integrated pest management for grains and climate change impacts.
The projects in eastern Africa will focus on innovative crop protection research for increased production and preservation of high-priority Feed the Future staple crops like maize, wheat, and chickpea in Ethiopia; rice and maize in Tanzania; and high-value vegetables in Kenya and Tanzania. The program will also research and implement new strategies to control existing and emergent pest infestations in countries where farmers with limited resources are predicted to be heavily affected by climate variability.
“This program has been working on the ground with poor farmers, making a difference in their lives, and contributing to global food security,” said Guru Ghosh, vice president for Outreach and International Affairs at Virginia Tech. “We’re pleased to have the opportunity to learn from past challenges and build on our successes.”
As in all the previous phases of the program, U.S. researchers will strengthen and forge new partnerships with international colleagues and work directly with farmers. The core tenets will remain unchanged: The program will strive to reduce pesticide use, increase food production, improve health, and make a difference in the lives of poor people in developing countries all over the world.
“A small innovation in a farmer’s life can have a huge impact on their family and on succeeding generations,” said Muniappan.

About Feed the Future
Feed the Future (www.feedthe future.gov) is the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative. With a focus on smallholder farmers, particularly women, Feed the Future supports partner countries in developing their agriculture sectors to spur economic growth and trade that increase incomes and reduce hunger, poverty and undernutrition.

USAID is the lead U.S. Government agency that works to end extreme global poverty and enable resilient, democratic societies to realize their potential.
About Virginia Tech
Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 225 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $496 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.

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Press Trust of India | Washington April 22, 2014 Last Updated at 07:12 IST

Observing that climate change is altering the planet in ways that will have profound impacts on humankind, US President Barack Obama has urged Americans to protect environment for a healthy, sustainable future.

“Today, we face a problem that threatens us all. The overwhelming judgement of science tells us that climate change is altering our planet in ways that will have profound impacts on all of humankind,” Obama said in a proclamation issued yesterday.

“Farmers must cope with increased soil erosion following heavy downpours and greater stresses from weeds, plant diseases, and insect pests.

“Increasingly severe weather patterns strain infrastructure and damage our communities, especially low- income communities, which are disproportionately vulnerable and have few resources to prepare,” he said.

The consequences of climate change will only grow more dire in the years to come, Obama warned, arguing that this is why, last year, he took executive action to prepare US for the impacts of climate change.

“As my Administration works to build a more resilient country, we also remain committed to averting the most catastrophic effects.

He said since he took office, America has increased the electricity it produces from solar energy by more than tenfold, tripled the electricity it generates from wind energy, and brought carbon pollution to its lowest levels in nearly two decades.

“In the international community, we are working with our partners to reduce greenhouse gas emissions around the globe. Along with States, utilities, health groups, and advocates, we will develop commonsense and achievable carbon pollution standards for our biggest pollution source — power plants,” he said.

“Because caring for our planet requires commitment from all of us, we are engaging organisations, businesses, and individuals in these efforts, the US President said.


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See: http://khon2.com/2014/04/18/coffee-industry-shakeup-coming-due-to-climate-change/

By ISA SOARESPublished: Friday, April 18, 2014, 1:09 am

LONDON (CNN) – Could climate change shake up the world’s coffee-growing industry?

One climate panel says yes.

It’s strong enough to give you a jolt and keep you wired for the rest of the morning.

But at this coffee exhibition in London, little do these customers know there may be a storm brewing in their coffee cup.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or the IPCC, pests, rising heat and extreme temperatures resulting from climate change may impact the supply of coffee — and the industry is worried.

“I am very concerned. I would say climate change is the most serious threat to the sustainability of the coffee supply chain right now,” Mauricio Galindo, International Coffee Organization said. “Because if we don’t take action, if we don’t prepare and give the resources to our farmers, to adapt to the change in circumstances we will not have quality in the coffee and quantity needed.”

The IPCC says that a temperature rise of two to two-point-five centigrades means some coffee growing countries – could run out of cool mountainsides in which to grow their coffee by 2050.

It also predicts that by 2020, coffee production could decline by 34-percent.

With profits shrinking from $200 per acre to less than $20 per acre.

In Brazil for example, the biggest producer of coffee and Arabica coffee, rising temperatures could cut the area suitable for coffee production by two-thirds.

“And that means that Brazil would need to look beyond their principal growing areas of Minas Gerais and Sao Paulo for their coffee. More importantly, that would impact millions of workers,” Galindo said.

“We’re talking about at least 35 million farmers and this means that if you think about their families, it’s probably 100 million people,” Galindo said.

“It’s a vast, vast number of people who depend directly on coffee as their number one source of cash,” Jeffrey Young, Managing Director, Allegra Strategies said.

But whilst this may prove challenging and devastating for many coffee growing countries. It can also be an opportunity for others.

“Vietnam for example has become a much much bigger player and is now the largest exporter of coffee, producer of coffee worldwide now, after Brazil,” Young said.

India is now developing its own coffee industry as is China.

A dramatic change of landscape for an industry that for years has depended on Brazil among others for their economic coffee fix.

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The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) is marking the 150th harvest of its Long-Term Continuous Cropping Experiment (LTCCE), the world’s longest-running rice research project.

This living field laboratory offers humanity a firsthand glimpse into the wonders of how rice production can be sustained in a changing climate without adversely affecting the soil and the productivity of a rice ecosystem.

According to Dr. Roland Buresh and Mr. Teodoro Correa, Jr., who both manage the LTCCE, the production of rice has been sustained after 150 rice crops in 52 years. Soil organic matter, a measure of soil fertility, has not declined in the past 30 years. This has been achieved without the application of crop residues and organic fertilizer.

The soil has remained a healthy medium for microorganisms, which is unique to flooded soils, thus providing sufficient biological input of nitrogen from the atmosphere for rice plants to produce 2 to 3 tons per hectare per crop. The application of fertilizer at an optimal rate for high profit can produce more than double this rice yield.

The experiences of the LTCCE have shown that proper application of fertilizer, sufficient irrigation water, and the use of modern high-yielding rice varieties and good crop management practices are essential for sustainable rice production.


Yields vary from year to year, largely because of climate, and are higher during years and seasons with abundant sunlight. Insect pests and diseases have not been a major factor affecting rice yields because varieties grown in the LTCCE are resistant. They are regularly replaced with new high-yielding ones that are pest- and disease-resistant.

“We were fortunate that the first scientists of IRRI had the foresight to envision intensive cultivation of rice and initiate the LTCCE in 1962 to test the feasibility and sustainability of intensive rice cultivation with up to three crops per year,” Dr. Buresh explained. “Society has and will continue to benefit from the findings of this experiment.”

“The implications of this is enormous, especially as intensive cropping becomes inevitable when more than half of the world’s population or over 3.5 billion people eat rice as their staple food,” he added.

“This living field laboratory will enable scientists to identify and solve potential constraints in intensive rice cultivation before they appear in farmers’ fields. It will continue in the future to provide insight for sustaining the productivity of rice in a changing climate.”


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How climate change will brew a bad-tasting, expensive cup of coffee

Rising heat, extreme weather and pests mean the highland bean is running out of cool mountainsides on which it flourishes
Climate change and coffee farming : roasted coffee beans


This photo taken on September 25, 2011 shows a worker checking roasted coffee beans at a roasting plant in Cavite, Philippines.

Photograph: Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images

Damian Carrington
Friday 28 March 2014 12.00 EDT

Rich western urbanites expecting to dodge the impacts of climate change should prepare for a jolt: global warming is leading to bad, expensive coffee. Almost 2bn cups of coffee perk up its drinkers every day, but a perfect storm of rising heat, extreme weather and ferocious pests mean the highland bean is running out of cool mountainsides on which it flourishes.

“The rise in global temperature is of great concern for us in the coffee industry because it will – and has already started – putting the supply of quality coffee at great risk,” said Dr Tim Schilling, executive director of the World Coffee Research programme, based at Texas A&M University. “It is also obvious that increasing temperatures – as well as extreme weather events – have a very negative affect on production. Over the long term, you will definitely see coffee prices going up as a result of climate change.”

Mauricio Galindo, head of operations at the intergovernmental International Coffee Organisation, is equally worried: “Climate change is the biggest threat to the industry. If we don’t prepare ourselves we are heading for a big disaster.” Coffee drinkers may see the effect in their cups, but the 25m rural households around the globe whose livelihoods depend on coffee will be hit far harder.


The world’s foremost climate science group, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), will include the effect of warming on coffee as part of a landmark report published next Monday on the global impacts of climate change. It is expected to conclude: “The overall predictions are for a reduction in area suitable for coffee production by 2050 in all countries studied. In many cases, the area suitable for production would decrease considerably with increases of temperature of only 2.0-2.5C.”

The IPCC will report that in Brazil, the world’s biggest coffee producer, a temperature rise of 3C would slash the area suitable for coffee production by two-thirds in the principal growing states of Minas Gerais and São Paulo and eliminate it in others. While growing will become possible in states further south, this will not compensate for losses further north. An IPCC report on the science of climate change published in September projected the world will warm by 2.6-4.8C by the end of the century without deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.


Coffee trees are irrigated on a farm in Santo Antonio do Jardim, Brazil. For the world’s biggest coffee producer, a temperature rise of 3C would slash the area suitable for coffee production by two-thirds in the principal growing states. Photograph: Paulo Whitaker/Reuters

The dangers to coffee stem from its origins in the highlands of east Africa, where the relatively cool and stable climate found between 1,500-2,800m allows the berries to thrive. But at 23C and above, the plant’s metabolism starts to race, leading to lower yields and, crucially, a failure to accumulate the right mix of aromatic volatile compounds that deliver coffee’s distinctive taste.

Worse, pests like the berry borer beetle and leaf rust fungus are flourishing as the world warms. Leaf rust has already savaged recent harvests in the coffee heartlands of central America, with yields down 40% in 2013-14 compared to 2011-12. “The only way you can make sense of it is through climate change,” said Galindo. “The temperature has risen and this fungus can attack with a speed and aggression we have never seen.” At least 1.4 million people in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua depend on coffee production for their livelihoods. When coffee’s susceptibility to changes in climate has caused crises in the last few decades, a quarter of all households have been forced to migrate.

The pest, berry borer beetle, was unknown until about 2000 in Ethopia, Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda, as it preferred the warmer temperatures at lower altitudes. But warming has driven the beetles up the hillsides and into the coffee plantations and it now causes $500m damage a year. The beetle currently reproduces five times a year but further warming is expected see that to rise to 10 times. Endosulfan, the pesticide once used to control the berry borer, was banned in 2011.

Climate change is also increasing the frequency of extreme weather events, as more energy is trapped in the atmosphere. According to Galindo, 2014’s severe drought in Brazil has shown how sensitive prices are to such climate impacts, with the price doubling to $2 per pound, even before the harvest.

Assessing all the combined impacts of climate change, Galindo said: “In the worst-case scenario, we will only have a few places producing coffee.” Brazil, Vietnam, Indonesia, Columbia and Ethiopia are the biggest producers and will probably have the resources to attempt to adapt, he said. “But central America and Laos and Peru and Burundi and Rwanda, they are gone.”


Coffee plants sit defoliated and damaged by leaf rust fungus in Guatemala, which is flourishing as the world warms. Photograph: J. Blue/Getty Images

The IPCC report will state that in some places, such as Uganda, adaptation by shifting plantation up hillsides will be impossible: they will simply reach the top and run out of land. Efforts are being made to develop new coffee varieties, to tolerate higher temperatures and resist pests. The coffee industry was worth $173bn in 2012, but Galindo said: “You need major financial means to change all your trees.” Lab-based genetic engineering, like that used to insert pest-killing toxins into maize and cotton, has been ruled out by the industry due to consumer opposition.

“But the real genetic variety of coffee has never really been exploited,” Schilling said. For arabica coffee, 70% of the world market, “every plant derives from only two or three Ethiopian varieties from 2,000 years ago”, he said. Researchers are now working to identify the 10 or 20 most genetically diverse coffee plants from 1,000 native varieties collected in the Ethiopian forests in the 1960s by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, with the results expected later in 2014.

These can then be crossed and put into field trials to develop what Schilling calls “super races” of coffee. Once identified, conventional techniques can quickly deliver millions of plants.

“I am very optimistic this strategy will produce the plants we need,” Schilling said. “But the weak point is the time available. It is a race – if we had started 10 years ago, we would be very confident that today we would have tools to battle climate change. But I wonder if coffee growers will be able to withstand climate change for another 10 years.”

Tags: Climate change, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Mountains, Coffee, Food & drink

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