Shaded Coffee Farms Provide Secondary Income for Farmers: Wood

Posted by Gregory Gough on January 1, 2008

farmer standing in front of firewood

Coffee, unlike many other crops, can be grown in the shade; as a shrub under a canopy of trees; or in full sun much like corn or soybeans. Although yields are typically lower in the shade, there are other benefits.

Much research has been devoted to the rich biodiversity found on shade-grown coffee plantations. The shade trees provide habitat for a variety of birds, many of which nest in temperate areas, such as North America, but spend the winter in tropical areas where coffee is grown.

In addition, the shade trees help prevent erosion, provide fertilizer, and eliminate the need for pesticides and herbicides.

In this study, the value of the shade trees themselves was calculated on 338 coffee farms in Peru and Guatemala. The trees provide much needed firewood used for cooking and heating homes, lumber for building, and medicinal uses.

In fact, from one-fifth to one-third of these coffee farmers' income came from wood products. A shaded coffee farm is much more than just a source of coffee.

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