Shade-grown coffee in Puerto Rico: Opportunities to preserve biodiversity while reinvigorating a struggling agricultural commodity

Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment
By: , and 

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Abstract

Shade-grown coffee contributes to biodiversity conservation and has many ecological benefits. We reviewed historical trends in coffee production and interviewed 100 coffee growers in 1999 to determine current management practices and attitudes toward the cultivation of sun and shade coffee in Puerto Rico. We discuss the outlook for the coffee industry in the 21st century and implications for biodiversity conservation, hoping lessons from Puerto Rico will apply to the international coffee industry. Throughout the 20th century, government intervention, including subsidies and technical assistance, supported coffee farming in Puerto Rico. In an effort to modernize coffee production and increase yields, the conversion from shade to sun coffee plantations was encouraged. Despite government support, the amount of land devoted to this once dominant agricultural commodity declined markedly between 1982 and 2007 (84%), due to labor shortages, low income, and catastrophic hurricanes. We found that a return to shaded plantations would be embraced by most farmers. Growers of shaded coffee were generally happier with their cultivation practices (89.3% satisfied) than growers of sun coffee (60.9% satisfied), valued biodiversity, and were willing to cultivate coffee under shade if given similar incentives to those received for farming sun coffee. The future of the coffee industry in Puerto Rico may depend on government programs that capitalize upon emerging markets for sustainably produced, shade-grown coffee. We conclude that where governments have close ties to the coffee industry, they should strive to wed economic development with the conservation of biodiversity and associated ecological services by providing support and incentives for the production of shade coffee.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Shade-grown coffee in Puerto Rico: Opportunities to preserve biodiversity while reinvigorating a struggling agricultural commodity
Series title Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment
DOI 10.1016/j.agee.2010.12.023
Volume 149
Year Published 2012
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Atlanta
Description 7 p.
First page 164
Last page 170
Country United States
State Puerto Rico
Other Geospatial Ciales, Utuado, and Jayuya
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