20% of East Africa’s coffee species face extinction

File image: iStock

File image: iStock

Poor agricultural practices among many smallholder farmers are causing the decline of Arabica and Robusta.

Fifteen out of 75 species of coffee in East Africa are facing possible extinction, which is threatening exports by Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

Poor agricultural practices among many smallholder farmers are causing the decline of Arabica and Robusta, two of the most popular brands of coffee, the East African reported.

The United Nation Environment Programme has identified disease, improper land use, like slashing and burning and the excessive use of chemicals as a leading cause of habitat and forest loss.

Tanzania, which is the continent’s fourth-biggest coffee producer, said that by July production may drop by 23 percent to 50,000 tonnes because of drought and poor crop cycles.

Arabica accounts for more than half of Tanzania’s output. The East African country exports 12,000 metric tones annually – mainly to Japan and Germany – which brought in $192 million in 2018 alone.

The Tanzanian Coffee Board estimates that approximately 90 percent of all coffee grown in Tanzanian is produced by 450,000 families.

However, there are 124 unknown coffee species that can weather the diseases and climatic changes that have ravaged the Arabica and Robusta species.

– African News Agency (ANA)

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