Coffee and Conservation
Life in the Amazon has changed dramatically in recent years. Since the 1950s, the population of Napo province
has been growing tremendously.
More and more people are hunting and fishing, and nowadays there are few
animals or fish left in the forest. Traditional agricultural methods is no longer viable, and
most people have turned to agriculture to survive.
As a Quichua farmer, you
still grow food for your family to eat, but now you also grow food
to sell at the market. You use this income to buy meat and other food. As
your children grow, you also need money for clothing, school supplies and
other things. You'd also like to fix up your house. You hope to buy a tin
roof to replace the grass thatch. You would also like to build a family
outhouse so you no longer need to use the community outhouse down by the
You've cleared several
more hectares of primary forest to grow cash crops to sell at the market.
You've found that freshly-cleared land produces more crops with fewer weeds.
You're tempted to clear more land each year to ensure high crop yields,
but you also want to preserve some of the primary rainforest on your land.
Primary forest is a valuable source of natural medicines. It's also an important
part of your culture.
What are you growing?
||Coffee from your fields is sold
throughout Ecuador. One hectare of land produces between 120 to 250 pounds
of coffee annually. At the market, that will bring between $85 and $200.
Coffee prices change often, so it's hard to predict exactly how much you
will earn from it.|
||Maize is the original species
of corn, native to the Americas. It has larger kernals than the corn we
usually eat. It's still an important crop for many indigenous Americans.
One hectare produces 200 pounds of maize annually. At the market, that will
bring about $140.|
||Cacao is the chocolate tree.
Cacao beans--which are actually seeds--are used to make cocoa and chocolate.
One hectare produces about 300 pounds of cacao beans annually. They'll bring
about $120 at the market|
It's time to plant for
the coming year. With a growing family, you need to expand your fields and
bring in more money. You have 15 hectares (40 acres) of land. You currently
have 1 hectare of coffee, and 1/2 hectare each of cacao and maize. These
brought in $260 last year. You want to make more money this year--over $300,
and ideally closer to $400.
Map of your 15 hectare plot of land
What do you want to plant? Think
about these things when planning your strategy:
- How much land do you want to clear and plant?
- What crops do you want to plant?
- How much primary forest do you want to clear?
| High income strategy
2 hectares of coffee on primary forest
1 hectares of cacao on primary forest
1 hectares of maize on secondary forest
| Conservation strategy
1 hectare of coffee on secondary forest
1 hectare of cacao on secondary forest
1 hectare of maize on secondary forest
|Balancing agriculture and conservation|
1 hectare of in coffee on secondary forest
1 hectare of in cacao on primary forest
1 hectare of in maize on primary forest