National Park In Mozambique Is Using Coffee To Fight Deforestation

It may never have occurred to you to grow coffee in a rainforest, but that’s exactly what’s happening on Mount Gorongosa in Mozambique, where some 400 farmers are planting and harvesting coffee that helps earn them much-needed cash they can use to support their families while at the same time restoring the rainforest.

The Associated Press (AP) reports:

“Mount Gorongosa rises 1,863 meters (6,112 feet) above Mozambique’s central plains and the tropical hardwood forest of its upper rainy regions is being stripped by local farmers who want to grow maize. Coffee is a crop that can stop that deforestation, say park experts. Shade-grown coffee shurbs produce better tasting coffee beans, so the trees are planted among indigenous trees. Areas that had been denuded of trees now boast verdant slopes of coffee trees interspersed with local trees such as albizias and other crops.”

Matthew Jordan, associate director of the Agricultural Livelihoods Program of Gorongosa National Park, says coffee is the perfect crop for the rainforest and provides a greater financial reward than subsistence crops such as maize:

“Coffee thrives in this unique rainforest. It produces much better income than maize and it encourages farmers to re-grow the rainforest. It is a win-win development for the farmers and the environment, so this is great for the park.”

Two decades ago, Mount Gorongosa was a victim of the brutal civil war between Mozambique’s government and Renamo rebels. Most of the wildlife had been poached or killed by military battles, but since peace has been achieved, it’s thriving once again. A partnership between the Mozambican government and the Gorongosa Restoration Project — which is funded in part by American philanthropist Greg Carr — allocates more than half of its annual budget to supporting communities that live around the park.

And the rate of coffee production is increasing by leaps and bounds, according to the AP:

“‘The Gorongosa coffee project is ramping up its productions, spurred on by the peace agreement signed this month (August 1) between Mozambique’s government and rebels. It the past four years it has planted 40,000 coffee trees that this year produced 8 tons of coffee beans. Some 300,000 new trees will be planted this year and annually for the next 10 years,’ Jordan said.”

The project has been a godsend for Querida Barequinha, who notes:

“I like growing coffee because it earns cash that goes right into my pocket. I can buy soap, cooking oil, schoolbooks and other household items. It’s very useful.”

Many of the Renamo rebels may soon put down their arms and join the coffee project, too:

“There are more than 800 Renamo rebels in three armed camps at the top of Mount Gorongosa. Their presence restricted the expansion of coffee and other agriculture. But the promise of earning ready cash from coffee may entice many of them to give up their weapons and start tending shrubs, say park officials. The processing of the coffee beans could create seasonal employment for thousands of local residents, said Jordan.”

Going forward, it’s believed that other crops could also do well in the verdant soil of the rainforest in Mozambique. Those include cashews, honey, pineapples, avocados, citrus, and litchis.

Vaida Frangene told the AP that she’s thankful for the opportunity to earn money while also revitalizing the rainforest:

“‘I really, really like coffee because it earns money. Last year I bought new capulanas (brightly printed cloth used as skirts and scarves) and some things for the house. It was great,’ she said.

“’There are other things that I appreciate, too,’ said Frangene. ‘I love the taste of coffee. I have learned new skills in growing coffee, picking coffee cherries and how to dry the beans. I have learned about the park.'”

 

Featured Image Via Pixabay

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