More shade, better coffee
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CTA. 2005. More shade, better coffee. Spore 116. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/47971
Internet URL: http://spore.cta.int/images/stories/pdf/old/spore116.pdf
Research suggests that growing coffee in tandem with trees improves the quality of coffee. Worldwide, coffee producers are suffering from low prices, with overproduction partly to blame. Countries such as Kenya and Brazil produce coffee in the full sun, a
Research suggests that growing coffee in tandem with trees improves the quality of coffee. Worldwide, coffee producers are suffering from low prices, with overproduction partly to blame. Countries such as Kenya and Brazil produce coffee in the full sun, a practice which produces higher yields, but poorer quality beans. One answer, according to researcher Ciro Righi, of the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil, is to use agroforestry systems to grow coffee. Trees create a favourable climate for coffee growth and production. Shade coffee, grown under trees, results in better quality coffee that can be sold at a higher price, he says. Righi made the claim at a recent seminar on coffee and rubber agroforestry systems, held at the Nairobi headquarters of the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF). He cited research in his native Brazil which shows that shade reduces temperature variations and keeps coffee plants and upper soil layers from overheating, making them less vulnerable during the dry season. The cover provided by plant canopy reduces water loss through evapotranspiration. Fodder legume trees trimmed several times a year can improve coffee plant nutrition by fixing nitrogen and recycling nutrients. The Brazilian studies show that rubber production in agroforestry systems is 50% higher than in single crop farms. The shade provided by trees also increases the formation of fruit buds on the coffee plants. Farmers benefit twice over they get better quality coffee and can sell products from the trees to earn extra income. In Brazil, rubber and coffee have proved to be a winning combination. But experts caution that care should be taken to avoid trees which do not lose leaves, as coffee still needs some sunlight. ICRAF s Dr Chin Ong says that in East Africa, Melia volkensi is the best tree species to use with coffee, since it has the same qualities as rubber.