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Your Favourite Beans are in Danger: Threats to Coffee & Chocolate Production

Coffee and chocolate might not be for everyone; but those who can’t start their day without a cup of coffee or include a bar of chocolate on their cheat days will likely be very disappointed. Regardless of whether you are a fan of coffee and chocolate or not, the industrial and environmental changes happening in the world creates a threat for hardworking producers and healthy soils around the world. These changes not only cause economic struggle for many, but they also affect the quality and price that naturally meets the end consumer. Today, we are going to find out what the issues are and how we can fight against them. 

What are the main threats to coffee cultivation? 

  • Pests and diseases: Hemileia vastatrix is a disease seen commonly where coffee is mostly produced. Coffee berry borer is another common one. 

  • Climate change: The unpredictability of rising temperatures and unexpected rains are big contributors that are, and will continue, harming coffee yields. Coffee lineages such as “Arabica” that have more quality but less resistance are currently suffering from climate change. Lineages like “Robusta” on the other hand have less quality but more resistance, therefore the yields are under less threat. The IPCC predicts a 10-20% reduction of coffee bean yields by 2050. 

  • Labour shortage: With coffee being a very labour intensive crop, workers are moving to other cities to find better quality jobs. 50-60% of coffee production costs are directly related to labour but not many people are satisfied with the working conditions.

  • Price Fluctuations: As coffee prices are based on the price range that the New York Exchange determines, there is massive reliance on maintaining the supply and demand chain, rather than focusing on farming costs. 

What are the main threats to cocoa cultivation? 

  • Extreme weather conditions: This year, in West Africa mainly,  there were extreme rains following a long period of drought. This formed the perfect basis for pests and diseases, such as the black pod disease and swollen shoot virus. Consequently, West Africa experienced a major reduction in yields and the price of cocoa beans went up to 10.000 USD per ton, breaking a new record. 

  • The Vicious Cycle of West African Farmers: In cocoa producing countries of West Africa, cocoa prices are fixed by the government in order to protect small farmers when prices are low. However, when prices increase, they do not receive benefits from it. As a result, farmers have an extremely difficult time investing in their farming practices. This jeopardises their operational resilience to avoid the changing weather and industry dynamics. 

  • Mining: Many cocoa farmers are switching to gold mining or selling their land for it, due to profitability reasons. 

How would data management help growers in these situations? 

Data management allows the visualisation of weather patterns, soil conditions, and crop health. Knowing this allows farmers to make better decisions in their agricultural operations such as planting, fertilising, irrigation, pest management, etc. Having data from a crop operation allows farmers to use “precision agriculture”. This involves applying the right dosage of fertilisers, pest control applications, water, etc. where and when needed, avoiding potential over applications.

The where and when factors allows farmers to know exactly the status of their farm resources. Meaning that they can optimise their usage by knowing their availability. When availability becomes trackable, small scale farmers can stay in the game of the monopolised market by reaching higher paying customers.

Also, with proper data management, farmers become more flexible to other testing techniques. Adapting to the new tests such as plant sap or introducing sensors may result in a lot more data precision than the currently used ones. 

In the end, with proper data management, the following are achieved: 

  • Informed decision making,

  • Precise practices,

  • Resource management,

  • Data Quality standards,

  • Feedback loop,

Here at SoilBeat, we believe that farm data management is not a preference, it is a prerequisite for nutritional yields, healthy soil and economic safety. Hence, our predictive and preventative features are extremely beneficial. We give out warning signs before a visible sign of trouble appears. Hopefully, someday all growers can experience the benefits of a farm data management software as broadscale as


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