Are you a coffee fanatic? Then you’ll be interested to know that currently more than half of all wild coffee species are at risk of extinction.
The reasons for this are multiple. But it is clear that the indiscriminate cultivation of coffee and the lack of security protocols to ensure the long-term sustainability of the activity top that list.
Main endangered species
Of the 124 species of coffee that have been discovered, approximately 74 are in danger of extinction. This represents 60% of the total, a truly alarming proportion for a plant that year after year returns to cultivation.
On the other hand, the real threat seems to hover especially over two species. That are the center of the commercialization of the coffee in the international market: the Arabica seed (Coffea Arabica) and the Robusta (Coffea Canephora).
59% of the coffee sold in the world comes from Arabica seed. The other 39% corresponds to the Robusta seed. These numbers lead us to assume the calamity that would befall the coffee industry if these two species were to become extinct.
The study that revealed these alarming data appeared last year in the journal Sciences Advances. The attached report addresses both risk factors and possible alternatives to secure the future of the plant.
Several renowned botanists participated in the study entitled “The high risk of extinction of wild coffee species and its impact on the sustainability of the coffee industry”. In the study they reveal some alternatives to face the threat of seeing such a precious product disappear.
The main alternative is plant breeding. It is nothing more than genetically reinforcing seeds that are at risk of extinction with qualities of others, which possess greater resistance.
This work of crossing requires time, since it seeks to create a new genetic configuration. But the advantages of starting such a project are many.
Some of the useful features that might be considered for genetic modification are tolerance to adverse climates (very hot or very cold) and resistance to pests.
Won’t the world of the future have coffee?
Although as things stand, extinction is a possible risk. The existence of at least 100 million coffee producers scattered around the world encourages thinking that large industries and botanical laboratories will come together at some point to create a recovery program.
We must also take into account the reasons why these species became threatened with extinction. To stop making the same mistakes in the future.
Soil contamination by the use of strong, and in some cases even illegal, fungicides and pesticides is one of the main issues to be addressed.
The excessive use of fertilizers, something that in the long run ends up damaging the soils, is another factor to control. The earth itself is rich in minerals, but if it is harassed with foreign agents or chemicals, the consequences can be truly devastating.
The best thing in any case is to support natural sustainability and not to abuse soils to please particular financial interests.