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CATIE and VOLCAFE join forces to develop a global program of sustainable agroforestry in coffee farms

  • Through a letter of understanding, both organizations commit to promoting sustainable agroforestry in coffee farms that are part of the Volcafe Way.

March 23, 2021. On March 3, the alliance between global coffee merchant Volcafe and CATIE (Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center) was formalized, in order to develop a global program of sustainable agroforestry that achieves the adaptation of coffee plantations and mitigation against climate change in the coffee farms of the producing countries where the group operates.

As part of the agreement, Volcafe will guide its actions to coffee producers on the establishment of agroforestry systems in cultivation and reforestation areas, as well as areas unsuitable for coffee production under the Volcafe Way Program. In addition, it will promote the inclusion of native species, fruit trees and shade service trees with all the benefits that this brings on income diversification, incorporation of organic matter, erosion mitigation, soil improvement, adaptation and mitigation to climate change.

Elías de Melo, researcher at CATIE's Coffee and Cacao Genetic and Agroforestry Improvement Unit, stated that one of the tasks of the Center will be to help define the different frameworks or possibilities for the implementation of improved agroforestry systems that are easily adapted to the different coffee growing areas.

“We want to add value to the management of both organizations, integrating knowledge through this initiative and becoming pioneers in this type of alliance that benefits the world and adds value to the communities and to coffee families. This agreement commits us to promote training and active education through the organization of courses, workshops, seminars, forums and different related activities in areas of common interest to both parties”, said De Melo.

The project also aims to develop and promote initiatives of payment for environmental services, proper incentives to speed the scalability and contribute to the climate change mitigation (reducing emissions and storing carbon in coffee agroecosystems worldwide). One of the main goals of the partnership is to achieve Volcafe Way´s concept of sustainable profitability by improving productivity, quality and resource efficiency as well as income diversification and positive environmental/social impacts on the coffee communities.

Carlos Ortiz, Global Volcafe Way Manager, mentioned the importance of these type of alliances and the value they bring to producers and roasters.

“We´re very pleased to partner with CATIE, their expertise and knowledge on agroforestry systems have positioned them as a reliable source of applied research. We´ve heard our roaster partner´s claims and climate change goals loud and clear, and we´re also aware of the coffee family’s needs on sustainable profitability. We hope to add value to each of them and keep building a better coffee world” shared Ortiz. 

Most of the project follow-up actions will be carried out virtually, however, for specific activities agreed upon in a common way and complying with the respective health protocols in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, face-to-face meetings and field visits will be held to comply with the stated objectives. 

The global program of sustainable agroforestry in coffee farms developed by CATIE and Volcafe will run from March to December 2021, with the possibility of being renewed to follow up in 2022. 

The Volcafe-CATIE letter of understanding is part of the general collaboration agreements established between the two organizations and was signed by Muhammad Ibrahim, CATIE general director, and Liesbeth Kamphuis, Volcafe group sustainability director.


About Volcafe

Established in 1851, Volcafe is one of the world’s largest coffee merchants, specializing in worldwide green coffee procurement, processing in origin countries and distribution to roasters partners. Volcafe provides access to all the major coffee producing origins and supplies beans for over 80 million cups a year.

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Established in 1973, CATIE (Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center) is a regional center dedicated to research and postgraduate teaching in agriculture, management, conservation and sustainable use of natural resources. Its members are Belize, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Venezuela, the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and the State of Acre in Brazil.

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More information

Elías de Melo
Coffee and Cocoa Genetic and Agro-forestry Improvement Unit
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Written by:

Daniel Cedeño
Information Technology and Communication
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