Coffee growing and consumption can help forests. Even though the coffee business is a pioneer in environmental sustainability in many respects, coffee-growing remains a significant source of deforestation and biodiversity loss in tropical countries from the Americas to Australia.
As global coffee consumption rises, the adverse effects of coffee production are worsening in some locations.
SUSTAINABILITY AND COFFEE
According to a recent paper published in the Dasgupta Journal on the Economics of Biodiversity, our relationship with the natural world demands profound change.
It claims that human societies can live sustainably if they ensure that their demands on nature do not outstrip their resources.
Coffee growing is an illustration of how we need to alter our production methods.
Rather than harming natural ecosystems, it might help retain forests and biodiversity, maintain essential ecosystem services, fix carbon, rehabilitate damaged landscapes, and provide farmers with long-term incomes.
The absence of reliable data and research products makes it impossible to measure the harmful and beneficial effects of coffee growing on the natural world.
In 2014, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, collaborated with a UK roasting firm to launch a project in Ethiopia’s Yayu Coffee Forest biosphere reserve to better understand the synergy between coffee production and biodiversity, with the goal of better understanding the coffee supply chain (commonly referred to as the value chain).
COFFEE FROM ETHIOPIA
The coffee industry is worth billions of dollars.
Coffee accounts for nearly a quarter of Ethiopia’s total exports and supports the livelihoods of an estimated 15 million people.
Arabica coffee’s native (wild) homeland is Ethiopia’s humid tropical woods and bordering South Sudan (Coffea arabica).
These forests are in their natural or semi-wild state, and some have been designated as protected areas for environmental and economic reasons.
Forests have a significant role in providing livelihoods for the people who live in and near them, as they are home to a diverse range of various plant, animal, and fungal species.
In natural (wild) Arabica coffee, the Yayu Coffee Forest Biosphere Reserve is known for having an extraordinarily high level of genetic variation.
The Yayu forest, with thousands of wild coffee trees interspersed with other wild plants, is mostly intact and unspoiled in its core region.
Coffee farming occurs in the reserve’s forest margins and transition zones, providing up to 70% of the cash income for over 90% of the local population.
COFFEE WITH A DIFFERENCE
In a recent study, we looked at the prospects for increased income and biodiversity protection through speciality coffee.
Speciality coffee, like fine wine, is a high-quality product with a higher price tag.
The demand for speciality coffees has grown and continues to develop during the last two decades.
It achieves its higher-quality rating by using best-practice farming, harvesting, and processing processes, as well as a high level of quality control.
In an ideal scenario, the secondary money earned by speciality coffees is spread along the supply chain, including to coffee farmers.
We discovered in the study that moderate participation in the speciality coffee market had a beneficial impact on small-scale coffee producers’ revenue.
Farmers can enhance their annual coffee income by 30% if only a portion of their yield (approximately 25%) is sold for speciality coffee.
Based on these data, we propose a scenario in which farmers’ coffee income could grow by 120 per cent if they sold their whole coffee production as speciality coffee. However, this would necessitate optimum farm and cooperative performance.
When more excellent coffee prices are received, more money is made in both circumstances.
The price attained was $2.80/pound, twice the Fairtrade minimum price for Arabica coffee at the time, due to a significant rise in the quality of the coffee as a result of the project’s interventions.
Notably, the growth in speciality coffee revenue was done without expanding land or increasing inputs like artificial fertilizers, irrigation, herbicides, or pesticides.
The Yayu Forest project coffee was purchased in big enough numbers to enter two major UK supermarkets (Sainsbury’s and Waitrose) and was sold at Kew retail stores and online once it was sold.
Five Yayu cooperatives were purchased for a total of £924,751 (US$1.26 million) in speciality coffees between 2015 and 2018, the majority of which create additional money for the community. Copper.
Yayu Forest Coffee is already eighth, and consumer demand remains robust.
The Yayu community and ongoing research will benefit from a forest conservation fee of 20 cents per pound, which has been turned into a donation of 34 cents (per pack) of retail coffee.
CONTROL OF THE ENVIRONMENT
I demonstrated that the coffee sold as Yayu Forest Coffee is indeed related to the forest was another critical aspect of the study.
We showed that Yayu coffee fields have tree cover and canopy health comparable to those of a wild, undisturbed forest using satellite photography.
Furthermore, we can show that just a minor amount of deforestation has occurred in the Yayu area in the recent two decades.
CLICKING IN A SUSTAINABLE MANNER
While biodiversity conservation and agriculture are often at odds, the opportunity for both biodiversity conservation and agricultural livelihoods can be found in common.
We’ve made progress in Yayu’s value chain, understanding and growing it in a way that supports and sustains these partnerships.
While the most environmentally friendly forest coffee production can have some adverse effects, they are significantly less harmful than many other coffee-growing methods, such as deforestation. monoculture forests in large-scale, recent, and large-scale monoculture forests with environmentally damaging inputs
The issue for consumers is that they lack the tools to comprehend the environmental impact of their purchases, whether positive or negative.
Consumers should better grasp how their shopping decisions affect the natural environment thousands of miles away from where they sip their morning coffee as a good beginning point.
We now have the technology to add environmental indicators to each bag of coffee, such as the quantity and quality of forest cover where the coffee is cultivated.