Supporting shade-grown coffee agroforestry and conservation
Shade-grown coffee groves (cafetales) are socially and ecologically highly valuable environments. Their importance for biodiversity and watershed conservation is well-known; in many parts of central Mexico they form an important part of the last remaining forested areas. As complex multi-use agroforestry systems they combine the diversified forest-based management systems that typified pre-Columbian subsistence with the needs of farmers to market different agricultural and forest products. The diversity and versatility of these anthropogenic forests has historically provided farmers with a measure of resilience against unpredictable and often difficult market and social conditions.
Despite their importance shade-grown forests face a number of serious threats. Low or unstable market prices for coffee coupled with the decline in demand for other forest-based commodities coupled with urbanization, out-migration and the introduction of a range of other more environmentally damaging land-uses, have undermined their social and economic viability in many parts of the country.
PPI works along multiple fronts and social actors in the states of Veracruz (Sierra de Zongolica) and Puebla (Sierra de Puebla) to promote the conservation and management of these valuable landscapes, developing new forest-based income streams, promoting sound forest management techniques, encouraging peer-to-peer learning and exchanges and re-vitalizing traditional foodways. To read more about our work with several local organizations to support coffee-farmers and their producer organizations to more effectively manage their existing timber stocks in family-based plots click here. Finally, PPI also works directly with schools and indigenous universities, facilitating direct and virtual peer-to-peer learning exchanges between students, producer organizations and coffee farmers and helping to develop curricula and hands-on approaches to help train a new generation of community resource managers. Read more about this work here.
Left:Delfino Gracia de Las Palmas (Zongolica) and his children with ornamental seedlings produced by him in his shade-grown coffee plots (Photo: C. López). Right: Pascual Tlecuile de Zincalco (Zongolica) pruning trees in his shade-grown coffee plot (Photo: C. López)
Project outputs, events and resources
2015. Diversifying income from cafetales through multi-purpose native trees. In response to the growing crisis facing coffee, and in response to farmer’s requests for assistance in diversifying the economic and livelihood importance of the forests where shaded coffee grows, forester Carolina Elizondo has been working alongside with farmers in two ejidos to document local technical local knowledge on the use and management of native tree species, producing a manual that enables the dissemination and application of technical and socially-valued knowledge, for use by local technicians and extension agents.
(Left: Page from the manual on multi-use tree species, currently under production. A prized medici-nal with high-quality wood, Flor de atole is one of the many under-utilised and socially and economically promising tree species found in shade-grown coffee orchard)
2015. PPI Affiliate Belinda Contreras is supporting women's weaver organizations in Tlaquilpa promote their work and develop strategic links with other artisans. Weaving provides an important, though still under-realized, source of income and is linked to women's endangered traditional systems of knowledge and environmental management associated with animal husbandry and with the cultivation, collection and preparation of plant-based dyes. Click here for more informatiom, here to see one of the educational posters produced to help weavers sensitize buyers, here to download a children's book used to help the process of transmission and revitalisation of the knowledge and management systems associated with weaving and here to listen to the story narrated in Nahua.
2015. Getting to know the territory: learning and exchange among young Nahua of the Sierra Norte de Puebla, Mexico (DVD. Spanish and Nahua). This video summarises three years of work with the students and teachers of the Xolotl Highschool as part of a broad project helping students use the school and schooling process to develop skills and know-how that they can use to engage with the problems in their community through social and territorial revitalisation. Watch the video (parts 1, 2, 3) and learn more about the project here.
2013. Exchange between coffee producers from the communities of Xolotla and Cuetzalan Sierra Norte de Puebla (Unión de Cooperativas Tosepan Titaniske, Puebla), and organic coffee producers from Zincalco Sierra de Zongolica (Veracruz), as part of an event organized by the highschool students from Xolotl, Pahuatlán. Watch the student-produced video here.
2012. Exchange between highschool students from Xolotla (Puebla) and the Universidad Veracruzana Indígena (Veracruz) and their meeting with organic coffee producers and their organization in Zincalco Veracruz. Watch the student-produced video here.
2012. Made by students from the Xolotla highschool (Pahuatlán, Puebla), the video Cafetales bajo sombra documents and reflect on the social, cultural, economic, and ecological importance of shade-grown coffee forest groves (cafetales). Watch this student photo essay on the process of researching and making the video and this videotaped interview of a coffee processor in Pahuatlán.
2011. Exchange between indigenous students and coffee farmers, as part of the course on intercultural land-zoning given by MIMOSZ-PPI at the Universidad Veracruzana Intercultural. Download the full report here.
2011. In the coffee-growing communities of Pahuatlán, Puebla, Citlalli López and her associates have been helping small-holders and their families realize the potential of jonotebark as an under-utilized forest product, in high demand by Otomí bark paper-making artisans from neighboring communities, as well as a source of timber for small-scale carpentry. As a fast-growing species that already forms part of the traditional system for production of shade-grown coffee, jonote (Trema micrantha) has the potential to be managed in order to ensure sustainable production and to aid in the restoration of degraded pastures and lands. Read more about PPI's work with jonote and with the artisans and coffee farmers of Puebla here.