Following recent publication of a paper, Neha Mittal, Andy Dougill and Katharine Vincent have just published an article in The Conversation on “How granular climate information can help tea growers in Malawi and Kenya“.

Tea producers in the two countries have already seen what damage climatic shifts can do, with droughts, frost and high temperatures threatening tea yields, national economies and the livelihoods of small scale farmers. However, they have typically not found generic climate projections useful because these projections focus on changes in average conditions, when tea crop production is at the greatest risk of temperature extremes.

The article outlines the novel research conducted as part of the Future Climate For Africa programme that generated tailored projections of extremely hot days for tea farmers. Nine locations in Malawi and Kenya will see more heatwave days, creating heat stress for the tea plants and affecting yield and quality.

Tailored projections allow farmers to make adaptation decisions – particularly important since tea plants have a long lifespan, meaning that decisions made now will be locked in to the future. This may include diversification into new varietals, planting in cooler areas, or afforestation to create shade for tea plants.

Tea farmers pick leaves in Mulanje, Malawi