Fruit Production in Shade Grown Coffee Farms

Posted by Gregory Gough on January 1, 2011

Coffee, a shrub grown in tropical areas around the world, can be grown in two basic ways: It can be grown in a manner similar to corn or other crops, in rows under the sun; or, scattered under a canopy of trees.

The traditional way of growing coffee is the latter system, in the shade. Sun coffee does provide higher yields, but the shaded system offers many other benefits to the coffee farmer.

tropical fruits in baskets

One such benefit is that fruit trees can be used to shade the coffee. Farmers in both Guatemala (in Central America) and Peru (in South America) were surveyed as to their use of fruit trees on their shade grown coffee farms.

Farm income from the fruit grown averaged about 10 percent of their total income. In Guatemala, more of the fruit is sold at market whereas in Peru more of the fruit is consumed on the farm. This discrepancy may be due to the better transportation system in Guatemala in the areas studied.

Bananas, of various types, are commonly grown in both countries, but more so in Peru. Citrus and other fruit trees are also grown. In times of low coffee prices, the production of fruit can be a great help to the farmer.

This article summarizes the information in this scientific paper:

Rice, R.A. 2011. Fruits from shade trees in coffee: how important are they? Agroforestry Systems DOI 10.1007/s10457-011-9385-4.

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