Analyzing risks in cocoa and coffee production transition zones in Latin America: modeling future socio-economic risks and conflicts.


Climate change will affect suitability of many crops within its current areas of production.  How it will affect cocoa and coffee production transition zones? a complex and prospective question that challenged Juan Fernandez and developed together with his intern Jilmar Castaneda, a student of Master 1 Governance of Territories, Risks and Environment. The main aim was to identify and understand climate variability consequences over these zones and its impacts on peoples lives. Moreover, massive investments in hydropower dams boosted by the Energy matrix change of The Paris agreement (COP 21)  could become a substantial source of uncertainties in this complex scenario because most dam projects are projected in areas where cacao plantations are expected to replace coffee production zones.

Cocoa and coffee plantations form part of thousands of families’ livelihood in many tropical countries.  Coffee is generally a mountain crop whose lower climatic limit corresponds to the upper climatic limit for the cacao tree. This limit is expected to move upwards with climate change.

In this study, we attempt to gain knowledge of the extent and distribution area of cocoa and coffee transition zones and the possible long-term impacts of climate change. We used “species distribution models” software to predict areas based on georeferenced data from the literature and the Global Environmentally Facility (GBIF). The models were projected on current climate conditions and for 2070 scenario.

We found that temperature and precipitation rain patterns will increase variability with respect to current conditions, therefore impacting the reliability of water supplies. In consequence, careful irrigation management would be necessary to assure agricultural production in this zones. However, water supplies are facing another different issue, following the COP 21 in search for « green » energy there is a massive investment in Hydropower Dams construction with more than 3700 projects worldwide including hundreds in the Latin America region. In particular, we found a large concentration of dam projects in the Equatorial Andes (Colombia, Ecuador and Peru) that will affect not only cocoa/coffee transition zones but possible the overall hydrological system on both sides of the Andes.



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