Climate change perceptions and adaptive responses of small-scale coffee farmers in Costa Rica

Peer Reviewed
1 January 2019

Climate change will affect the distribution, productivity and profitability of coffee production in Central America, negatively impacting national economies and small farmer livelihoods. There is a need to understand how climate change affects small coffee farmers in the region in order to promote measures that allow them to cope with and adapt to these changes. Objective. The objective of this study was to describe Costa Rican small-scale coffee systems in two vulnerable agricultural landscapes and explore the adaptation efforts that coffee farmers have implemented in these two coffee systems. Materials and methods. Structured surveys were conducted with coffee-producing households in two highly vulnerable landscapes, Turrialba and Los Santos, in Costa Rica, from March-May 2014. The study was based on farmers’ perceptions of changes in temperature and rain, reported impacts of these changes and the adaptation actions implemented at farm level. Results. Ninety-eight percent of farmers perceived changes in local climate and most of them related these changes with impacts on production (increase in pests and diseases, flowering problems and other reported impacts). Sixty percent of the surveyed farmers had modified the management of their farms in order to reduce climate change impacts. The most common adaptation measures used by farmers were the planting of trees and the increased use of agrochemical inputs, mostly in response to perceptions of increasing temperatures. Conclusion. This study highlights the need for greater technical, financial and policy support to help smallholder coffee farmers implement adaptation practices and become more resilient to climate change. 

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Sustainable Development Goals
Publication | 6 June 2019