agroforst 1199

Naturland

cosatin gross BSHow Naturland farmers are meeting the challenges of climate change

Naturland was pleased to welcome Maribel Rosales Soto, the manager of Cosatin – Tierra Nueva, a Naturland coffee co-operative, and Esmeralda Martinez, a Naturland farmer, to its head offices in Gräfelfing on 17th September. These two guests from Nicaragua had been invited by dwp -die Weltpartner, a Naturland Fair partner, to report on the many decades of the co-operative’s successful work, the importance of organic coffee production and on the threat climate change is posing to their livelihood.

The headquarters of COSATIN are in the small town of Boaco in the department of the same name, north-east of Managua, the capital. Back in 1987, over 400 smallholders decided to combine their efforts to sell their harvests jointly for the best prices possible. Now the members are able to export some 40% of their harvests via such fair-trade partners as MITKA, one of the major alternative coffee importers in Germany. The coffee is then sold throughout Germany by such world partners as dwp.

The farmers produce coffee and honey for export. Both are organic products. Besides these crops, the farmers grow beans, maize, citrus fruit, bananas and cocoa for their own consumption and for sale at their local markets.

Even though organic cultivation in the agro-forestry system required by Naturland for the production of coffee and cocoa can cushion the effects of climate extremes to a certain extent, the farmers are experiencing an increase in the detrimental impact of climate change. Esmeralda Martinez reports that summer is no longer summer and winter no longer winter. In other words, it rains when it should not, and then later it is too dry when the coffee plants are in need of rain. This leads to irregular flowering and harvesting phases, often with small coffee beans if there is too little rain, and long dry periods make it more difficult to tend to the plants properly because of heightened disease and pest pressure.

In order to prepare themselves for the challenges of these negative affects, COSATIN is looking for ways of diversifying its production and has already had some success with honey, ginger and curcuma. There is still some potential to be found in choosing the right strain of coffee for the respective climate zone. Climate stations are attempting to record and systemise climate changes in order to be better prepared for this phenomenon. A short time ago, a group of women started breeding mushrooms as a biological agent to control the broca, a beetle which attacks the coffee cherries.

On 22nd September the COSATIN representatives from Nicaragua visited the Erlenhof farm in Unterjoch. It is a Naturland hill farm in the region of Allgäu, with 25 dairy cows and 40 hectares of meadows and pasture. Who knows, perhaps we are already stirring Erlenhof milk into our coffee from Nicaragua.