Agroforestry Café Apuí

Posted by Gregory Prang on

Launched in May 2015, Agroforestry Café Apuí (Apuí Agroforestry Coffee) is a project led by IDESAM (Institute of Conservation and Sustainable Development of the Amazon) in the municipality of Apui, located in the extreme south of the Amazon. In almost three years since its launch, the product is already distributed throughout Brazil, including the "Boxes" at the Pinheiros Market in São Paulo, operated by Alex Atala's Instituto ATÁ. Café Apuí serves a consumer base increasingly concerned about sourcing and production methods.

"In addition to the environmental benefits and the differentiated taste, the production free of agrochemicals also makes Café Apuí a great choice for those who also think about health", explains Carlos Koury, technical director of IDESAM.

Café Apuí is the first coffee produced sustainably in the Amazon with 100% robusta beans (Coffea canephora). Production occurs in agroforestry systems with trees native to the Amazon and without the use of agrochemicals and preservatives. With unique drying and roasting processes, this bold, full-bodied coffee has pleasant aroma and flavor characteristics. More than just healthy and delicious, Café Apuí represents an alternative of generating income for the traditional producers and containing deforestation for the sustainable development of the region.

The Café Apuí Agroforestry Project works in the technical training of producers through workshops and courses for the implementation and management of shaded crops, symbolizing a sustainable form of production that prioritizes the interaction between a production system and forest, with the producers as environmental stewards. The goals also include the promotion and strengthening of a network of producers joining efforts to seek improvements in production along the entire value chain, from planting to organic certification which will be implemented later this year. 

The grouping of coffee plants with forest species known as agroforestry, or "productive forest" allows the shading of the coffee plantation, which changes the microclimate, reduces the luminosity and makes the environment more humid and balanced. These factors, worked properly, contribute to increase productivity and quality of the beans and enable organic production, which does not generate impacts to human health or the environment through the absence of chemicals. Thus, Café Apuí is now in the process of obtaining recognized certifications (e.g., organic). By adding value to the product and diversifying the general productivity of the crop, these practices are of great economic and social interest. No less important is the ecological factor because agroforestry coffee production ensures greater biodiversity and more nutrients in the soil, besides avoiding deforestation.

In addition to the environmental benefits, including the recovery of degraded areas and the conservation of natural landscapes, the project has already enabled returns in productivity, with a gain of 200% for coffee-growing families. The Apuí Café positively impacts the social organization of farmers, seed collectors, and seedlings producers.

To achieve this objective, the project is structured in central axes:

  1. Increase productivity and improve coffee quality through the adoption of agroecological techniques;
  2. A consortium of coffee plantations with the production of agricultural and forestry species of economic and food interest;
  3. Market studies and incentives for the commercialization and consumption of agroecological coffee, adding value to the environmental services provided by agroforestry, highlighting the climatic benefits.

The municipality of Apuí is located in the south of Amazonas, on the banks of the trans-Amazon highway the main frontier of deforestation of the State. Deforestation in the municipality is largely associated with extensive livestock production: many forest areas are destroyed and converted to low productivity pastures, which follow a cycle of continuous expansion into new properties. Apuí is the third most deforested municipality in Amazonas and has the third largest herd in the state, with about 137 thousand head of cattle. Developing the municipality's economy in an integrated way is essential in the fight against deforestation. Coffee production has already made a strong contribution to the Apuí economy but has yet to make a greater impact due to a lack of incentives, technical assistance, and difficulties in marketing. There are currently 30 active coffee producers in the municipality, producing 12 metric tons in 2017

On February 16, 2018, IDESAM was selected as one of the six finalists of the Creating Shared Value Prize, an initiative of the Ashoka Network. The award, created in 2010, seeks innovative technologies that cause changes and impacts on communities. To "raise the quality of life and contribute to a better future," the network has sought out social enterprises and non-profit entities that create shared value around the world.

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