Worldwide, coffee farmers contribute 25% of the global warming gases that agriculture produces to cause climate change, La Nacion pointed out recently. For this reason, the ministries of Agriculture and Environment and the Coffee Institute (ICAFE) have leagued to help Costa Rica’s small coffee farmers to cut their emissions rate.

Picture of a coffee plantation at the HaTo accomplish this, the institutions are taking advantage of $2 million of a special Interamerican Development Bank (IDB) investment fund so that 800 small farmers and 10 large coffee processors can clean up their acts.

For basically an environmental measure, it is remarkably broad in scope: farmers will be urged to manage residual water, used of agricultural refuse as fuel for drying coffee, a sorely needed training in application of fertilizers and development of by-products.

The trend in the past two decades has been to use dwarf trees that require no shade. Farmers will be urged to return to the trees that need the shade of bigger trees. This will provide the farmer with recompense for increasing the number of trees and, therefore, capturing more greenhouse gasses.

Commentary: The coffee producers of today have already cleaned up their acts markedly. At one time, coffee processors dumped the half-fermented berries lost in the drying process into the nearest river, in fine disregard for others. The contamination was horrible as was the smell produced downstream.

This reporter can remember remarking to his wife while walking in one Desamparados neighborhood, “You can get hepatitis just breathing the air here.” A river was nearby and it was coffee season. That was prohibited before the new century dawned.

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