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Could Regenerative Organic Coffee Farming be the Key to Reversing Deforestation in Peru?

Nestled in the heart of the mountains in the Andean Paramos region of Peru, there are 182 families who entirely depend on coffee cultivation for their livelihood.

Unfortunately, coffee rust – a fungus also known as “La Roya” — has devastated the coffee trees of 64 of these families, leading to catastrophic economic losses for hundreds of people.

With coffee production their only way to make a living and provide for their families, they have had no choice but to search for nearby land which has not been infected by coffee rust. While this is giving these families a financial lifeline, it has also resulted in the destruction of forests in the region, a territory that cannot that cannot afford this type of displacement.

The Andean Paramos region of Peru is one of the most fragile and precious ecosystems in the face of climate change. Not only are its freshwater springs threatened due to deforestation with the expansion of agriculture, but this land is viewed as a valuable source of wood for fuel. Needless to say, these vital resources that must be preserved and protected.

Despite the challenges that exist — most notably, balancing people’s need to make a living with the importance of maintaining the ecosystem — a viable solution may exist for small-scale farmers to both tackle poverty and food insecurity while protecting the rainforests: growing coffee within diverse, community-led agroforestry systems.

Agroforestry is a dynamic, ecologically-based approach to natural resource management that promotes the integration of diverse food, fodder, timber, and shade trees in agricultural landscapes. Once installed, well-maintained systems require little inputs like fertilizers and are naturally resistant to pests and diseases, thereby cutting costs and labor for farmers.

Equally as important, dynamic agroforestry systems can provide employment and multiple income streams while fostering biodiversity and sequestering carbon.

Three of the top 100 climate solutions identified by Project Drawdown are agroforestry-based, and if implemented globally, they could sequester 57.67 gigatons of carbon back into the soil.

Grow Ahead, a regenerative agriculture crowdfunding initiative of fair trade advocacy group Fair World Project, has teamed up with Peruvian-based Cooperativa Norandino to support the families affected by the “La Roya” blight through a farmer-driven agroforestry program. The program is geared towards revitalizing their coffee production, as well as supporting the conservation and reforestation of the fragile local ecosystem.

“Grow Ahead’s mission is to support climate resilience in communities on the frontlines of climate change,” says Grow Ahead’s Executive Director Ryan Zinn. “Regenerative organic agricultural systems like agroforestry, coupled with collaboration, are critical to our model of promoting restoration and resilience in these communities. In addition to teaming up with strong local partners, we’re working with fair trade coffee shops, an ethical grocer, and individual donors in the U.S. to make this program a reality.”

The agroforestry restoration project with Cooperativa Norandino and Grow Ahead aims to develop a replicable reforestation model that promotes ecosystem regeneration, conservation, and improvement of food security and income for family farms.

Approximately 135,000 coffee seedlings of a variety naturally resistant to “La Roya” will be cultivated and planted on 30 hectares, and another 69,000 forest seedlings for native species reforestation will be cultivated in the first year for the repopulation of an additional 55 hectares.

Along with the planting of the seedlings, three community associations will be created to monitor ecosystem health and to support with education and capacity-building around conservation and fair carbon certification.

“Not only will implementing more sustainable methods of production via agroforestry result in the conservation and restoration of the local watershed, it will also mitigate the effects of climate change through soil carbon drawdown,” says Grow Ahead’s Program Coordinator Alexandra Groome.

With ecological and economic challenges becoming more pervasive in third world communities where options are very few, Grow Ahead is playing an important role in not only providing financial hope to these farmers but providing solutions that mitigate climate change and capture carbon from the environment – something that impacts us all.

WATCH MY LIVESTREAM WITH GROW AHEAD – THIS WEDNESDAY

This Wednesday at Climate Day at Natural Products Expo West, I will be doing a Facebook Live with Grow Ahead’s Ryan Zinn and Alexandra Groome.

We’ll be discussing Grow Ahead’s reforestation project in Peru and how you can contribute to seeding regenerative organic agriculture around the world.

When: Wednesday, March 7th at 3:45pm PST

How to Watch: Follow the Facebook page of Living Maxwell by clicking HERE and wait for the notification at 3:45pm PST on Wednesday

ABOUT GROW AHEAD

Grow Ahead is an online lending and funding program that connects individuals and organizations directly to small-scale family farmer organizations. By lending and contributing through Grow Ahead, consumers and organizations can support the agroecological solutions and farmer-led trainings that have a proven track record of success in farming communities.

ABOUT COOPERATIVA NORANDINO

Cooperativa Norandino is an association of small-scale coffee producers in northern Peru. The 90 grassroots organizations with more than 6,600 producers are located on the western slopes of the Andes Mountains in Piura.

(This article was authored by Alexandra Groome of Grow Ahead.)

A message from Tradin Organic

How Tradin Organic is Helping Coconut Farmers in The Philippines

For more than a decade, Tradin Organic has been working with local partners in The Philippines to bring a diversified range of organic products to the market, such as coconut oil, tropical fruits and even cocoa.

The company is helping to support local farmers by assisting them with technical support and organic certification, in addition to paying Fairtrade premium on top of the organic premium.

Learn more.

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Organic Insider

Better Choices

USDA Approves Genetically-Engineered Apples that Don’t Turn Brown

It seems like every day that passes, the USDA approves another very risky GMO crop, all to the benefit of biotech/chemical companies and to ZERO benefit for consumers.

This time, the USDA has approved a first-of-its-kind genetically-engineered (GE) apple that doesn’t turn brown after bruising or slicing.

The apple, developed by the company Okanagan Specialty Fruits, uses a relatively new form of genetic engineering called RNA interference, or gene silencing, which has raised numerous concerns from consumer groups, environmentalists, and the apple industry.

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A message from Tradin Organic

Why Tradin Organic is Prioritizing Regenerative Organic Farming

At Tradin Organic, we believe that regenerative organic farming is key to growing healthy and nutritious food ingredients — for now and for future generations.

And in Sierra Leone, we have grown the world’s first Regenerative Organic Certified cacao.

Learn more.

Living Maxwell

Better Choices

Another Reason to Eat Organic – Conventional Meat Contains Twice as Many Superbugs

Aside from the fact that conventionally-raised animals can be pumped with synthetic growth hormones and can be fed genetically-modified grain that has been sprayed with super-toxic pesticides, there is now another scary reason to avoid conventional meat: superbugs.

In results from a just released study, Consumers Reports found that 18 percent of the ground beef samples from conventionally-raised cows contained dangerous superbugs resistant to three or more classes of antibiotics used to treat illness in humans. This is compared with just 9 percent of ground beef from samples that were sustainably produced.

Consumer Reports purchased 300 packages – 458 pounds – of conventionally and sustainably produced ground beef from grocery, big-box, and natural food stores in 26 cities across the country.

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Living Maxwell

Better Choices

Potatoes are on the Non-GMO Project’s High Risk List – What Does That Mean and What Do Shoppers Need to Know?

In a recent issue of Organic Insider, I discuss the decision by the Non-GMO Project to place potatoes on its High-Risk list.

Joining soy, corn, canola and a few others, this is by no means a prominent distinction. Rather, it is something that every crop should seek to avoid because it means that the likelihood of consuming a genetically-modified version of this crop in the U.S. is extremely high.

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