Dr. Robert Rice is commonly referred to as the coffee industry’s “voice of the birds,” and the certification he represents the gold standard for environmentally friendly coffee. That point is difficult to argue: The Smithsonian’s Migratory Bird Center’s Bird Friendly coffee certification requires farmers to be organic certified, possess at least ten different species of trees […]
I recently had the opportunity to visit with a group of farmers in the sun-baked department of Usulután in eastern El Salvador. These farmers live at the lower bounds of coffeelands, as low as 400-500 meters above sea level. At this elevation, the sun is relentless and punishing and water is scarce. The only hope for sustainable coffee farming is effective shade management. When one middle-aged farmer observed that the leaves fell from the coffee plants that were directly exposed to the sun, an older one in the group shook his head and offered this wisdom: “Shade is the foundation. Without shade, there is no coffee.”
I recently heard an agronomist tell a group of farmers in El Salvador: “With coffee, we all win.” How true. Shade farming and other sustainable production practices deliver each of the four cardinal environmental services: carbon sequestration, biodiversity, water resource management and scenic beauty. We have been working for years to help smallholder farmers increase […]
Farmers in El Salvador, which has few remaining natural forests, waning water resources and precious little high-altitude terrain, are acutely aware of the impacts of climate change. That’s why many are making short-term changes to mitigate the negative impacts of climate change on their farms and adopting water-efficient post-harvesting technology. The coffee sector in El Salvador is also investing in breeding more resistant varieties.