Improving the Jamaican Coffee Sector’s Resilience to Coffee Leaf Rust and Climate

October 1, 2014 -

Growing coffee has always been challenging for Jamaican Blue Mountain farmers. Rugged terrain, high labor costs, diseases, and hurricanes have exposed farmers to compounding risks. In recent years, these risk have expanded to include coffee leaf rust (CLR).

CLR is a fungus that affects all coffee producing regions. In Jamaica, the first major flare-up occurred in late 2012, affecting an estimated 35% of the crop and severely affecting farmer income. The main drivers of CLR epidemics elsewhere in the world have been economic and meteorological in nature. Low profitability often leads to plant neglect or suboptimal use of costly inputs like fertilizers, which help make the plant more resistant to diseases. Increases in air temperatures in recent decades can also allow for the optimal conditions for CLR to be present and persist for longer at higher elevations compared to the past, while droughts generally weaken the trees.

Within this entangled social and environmental risk environment, this project examines how climate information can build resilience to coffee leaf rust for Blue Mountain coffee farmers. The four objectives are to: (1) assess the barriers and coping strategies to the management of CLR, including the utility of climate and weather information, within a vulnerability framework; (2) analyze weather and seasonal climate risks and assess forecasting capabilities, (3) use insights from the vulnerability and climate science assessment to co-develop with key Jamaican partners tailored climate services that inform CLR management; and (4) evaluate the impacts of the climate service on decisions and ultimately on resilience of coffee production.


IRAP Members

Teddy Allen; Ashley Curtis; Tim Finan; Zack Guido; Malgosia Madajewicz; Simon Mason; Valerie Rountree; Cathy Vaughan

Project Partners

Univeristy of West Indies (Mona Campus, Jamaica); Caribbean Institute for the Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH); Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA; Jamaica office); Jamaican Coffee Industry Board; Jamaican Meteorological Service; ACDI-VOCA

Project Documents

Download: Coffee Leaf Rust and Climate: State of the Science