Hivos International

Shade-Grown Coffee: Double dividend for biodiversity and small-scale farmers in Peru

Biodiversity is the cornerstone of our very existence. Also in agricultural systems, biodiversity plays an important role in providing important goods and services to farmers, for example in crop pollination and maintenance of soil fertility. In coffee cultivation systems, layers of shade trees used to be very common. Shade trees play a key role in providing timber and fruits, storing carbon, maintaining a favourable microclimate, and harbouring biodiversity. Nevertheless, coffee farmers across the tropics have often removed these shade trees, in search of higher coffee productivity. The question is however, whether this presumed higher productivity of fullsun coffee cultivation, has also brought farmers the desired economic advantages and benefits. 

This research, conducted in Peru, develops the business case for biodiverse coffee production in a more profound manner. The results of the work of the authors Rosalien Jezeer and Pita Verweij are loud and clear. It dispels myths on loss of productivity due to biodiversity conservation. Based on its results, we can now confidently say that shaded organic systems have great potential to combine the twin challenges of local socio-economic development and biodiversity conservation. Shaded coffee provides a viable business case to coffee smallholders and supports biodiversity and ecosystem services.

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