The impoverished state of Chiapas, in Mexico and bordering Guatemala, is an important source of coffee. Efforts to modernize coffee agriculture in the area resulted in greater production.
Unfortunately, a fall in coffee prices in the 1990s caused the abandonment of coffee farms and contributed to civil unrest.
Coffee farms that were not modernized, and continued to grow coffee in the traditional way, as a shrub under a canopy of trees, have fared better as the tree canopy provides alternate forms of income (such as fruit and timber).
This article summarizes the information in this publication:
Rice, R.A. 1997. The land use patterns and the history of coffee in eastern Chiapas, Mexico. Agriculture and Human Values, 14: 127-143.
The role of coffee in the land use patterns and decisions of eastern Chiapas looms as a key ingredient in the social and political relations of this conflicted area. Data from the municipios of Ocosingo, Altamirano, and Las Margaritas - three districts generally associated with the January 1994 uprising - reveal similarities and distinct differences in land use patterns involving coffee. The introduction and spread of coffee, as well as the market and production changes related to this export-oriented sector can be linked to the colonists who settled this remote region over the past several decades. The dynamics between grassroots campesino producer organizations and the state's now-defunct National Coffee Institute (INMECAFE) helped set the stage for the economic challenges that fell full force upon the residents in the area in 1994 and beyond.
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