Bird Friendly® Workshop for Organic Inspectors in Chiapas, Mexico

May 21, 2010 by Robert Rice


On May 17 and 18 (2010), SMBC staff traveled to southwest Chiapas, one of Mexico's important coffee-producing states, to conduct a training workshop for organic inspectors. The two-day event was organized by the local office of Control Union (CU), an inspection agency SMBC has worked with before in both Peru and Indonesia.

Robert Rice of SMBC and Lázaro Escalante of CU Mexico brought a dozen people together in the town of Jaltenango, a coffee center south of Tuxtla-Gutierrez nestled near the protected natural area known as El Triunfo Biosphere Reserve. The reserve covers some 120,000 hectares and is home to nearly 400 species of birds. Small-holder coffee farms with a diverse shade cover blanket much of the area contiguous with El Triunfo.

The workshop focused on training the CU inspectors in evaluating shade conditions in organic coffee farms, using the Bird Friendly (BF) criteria as standards for what constitutes shade-grown coffee that can support a diverse avifauna. The goal was to have inspectors ready to respond to recent requests by producer groups and exporters such as AMSA (one of Mexico's largest exporters of coffee) for a BF certification.

With one day "in class" and the other in the field, workshop participants got to understand the importance of having strict criteria like those of the BF program that define bird habitat within the coffee agroforestry system. The field practicum, carried out in an area of small landholders who manage shade coffee, involved a practice inspection. Participants found more than 20 species of shade trees in this short exercise.

Tree List

NameScientific Name
ChalunInga micheliana
CaspirolInga laurina
Paterna Inga jiincuil
Guagua Inga pavoniana
CanacoAlchornea latifolia
Mano de LeonDendropanax arboreus
NacheByrsonima crassifolia
MangoMangifera indica
ChachalacoTrichilia havanensis
EscobilloMouriria myrtilloides
GuineoMusa sp.
NaranjaCirus sinenesis
TrompilloGuarea trompillo
Pachan-robleQuercus corrugata
LolitoConostegia xalapensis
Tree List
NameScientific Name
chalumInga micheliana
aceitunaSimarouba glauca
achotilloVismia ferruginea
anonaAnnona reticulata
cacateOecopetalum mexicanum
canacoAlchornea latifolia
canelilloCalycophyllum candidissimum
canutilloOdontonema callistachyum
capulinTrema micrantha
carneroCoccoloba barbadensis
caspirolInga laurina
castañoSterculia mexicana
cedroCedrela odorata
cola de pavaOuratea sp.
corchoHeliocarpus donnell-smithii
coyol de cochiStemmadenia donnell-smithii
cuilInga pavoniana
chachalacoTrichilia havanensis
chicharroQuercus skinneri
chiquininQuercus crispipilis
encinoQuercus sp.
escobillo Mouriria myrtilloides, M. parvifolia
escoboCleyera theaoides
fresnoFraxinus udhei
frijolilloSenna tonduzii
granadilloLafoensia punicifolia
guarumboCecropia obtusifolia
guayabilloMatudea trinervia
higueraRicinus communis
hoja de cinta?
joboTapirira mexicana
limaCitrus limetta
limonCitrus aurantifolia
liquidambarLiquidambar styraciflua
lolitoConostegia xalapensis
madre de agua?
malacateLasianthaeae fruticosa
mangoMangifera indica
mano leónDendropanax arboreus
manzano de mono?
matapaloFicus involuta
matasanoCasimiroa edulis
mescalilloPerrottetia longistylis
mezcalDussia cuscatlanica
moraChlorophora tinctoria
nanche Byrsonima crassifolia
naranja Cirus sinenesis
naranjilloSwartzia simplex
pacayaChamaedora wendlandiana
palo blancoForestiera ramnifolia
palo coloradoClethra matudai
palo chonte?
palo de aguaIresine arbuscula
palo marimbaPlatysmicium dimorphandrum
palo mulatoBursera simaruba
palo palomo?
palo peineDalbergia calderonni
palo verde?
papausa de monte?
paternaInga jiincuil
pinoPinus oocarpa
platanoMusa paradisiaca
pomarosaSyzygium jambos
robleQuercus corrugata, Q. duratifolia, Q. magnoliifolia
sangre de perroCroton draco
siquinayVernonia deppeana
tepeagucateNectandra sinuata
trompilloGuarea trompillo
uvaVitis sp.
zapotilloDipholis minutiflora

Also in attendance were four staff members of the "despacho" DESPAMA, a technical assistance organization based in Tapachula. Despachos are private firms that have recently appeared on the coffee scene in Mexico to aid grower groups with "internal control" (knowing what all cooperative members have in terms of coffee area, maintenance practices, etc.) and general technical assistance with the various certification schemes now popular across the coffee landscape. DESPAMA works with some 40 different grower associations and is confident that many of its clients will seek and qualify for the BF seal of quality shade-grown coffee.

Workshop Participants

Name Certification Body
Lázaro Escalante LópezControl Union Certifications
Hugo Aguilar GarcíaControl Union Certifications
Fredy Vázquez EscalanteControl Union Certifications
Elbis Eduardo López GómezControl Union Certifications
Rubelsi Gonzalez RobleroControl Union Certifications
Idalmar Muñoz HernándezControl Union Certifications
Hanely Nataly Espinosa GuillenControl Union Certifications
Julio C. Constantino MartinezDespama SA de CV
José Luis Reyes HidalgoDespama SA de CV
Luis Rey Cifuentes SantizoDespama SA de CV
Paula Aurora GutiérrezFlores Despama SA de CV