Research: Biodiversity, yield, and certification

by JulieCraves on February 14, 2006

Perfecto, I., J. Vandermeer, A. Mas, and L. Soto Pinto. 2005.  Biodiversity, yield, and shade coffee certification.  Ecological Economics 54:435-446.

The more complex overstory (and thus shade) in a coffee plantation, the higher the diversity.  However, the more shade, the lower the yield (although the relationship is not strictly linear), as coffee grows best in about 35-60% shade.  Therefore, farmers have to be compensated for the lower yields if they preserve shade and biodiversity.  Since a switch to organic farming typically increases yield, while a switch to more shade-dense farming decreases yield, the premiums paid to farmers for growing certified shade coffee must be higher than those for certified organic coffee.

This paper outlines the factors and decisions that have to be taken into account to determine best way to define certification criteria that will effectively preserve biodiversity while keeping yields high enough so that financial premiums paid to farmers are not so high as to discourage consumption. Of course, not all premiums have to be paid by consumers; aid and conservation organizations can absorb some of the costs.  And the authors seem to agree with others that linking shade-grown certification with Fair Trade and organic certification could be effective as long as the premiums are high enough to offset reductions in yield.

Revised on October 26, 2010

Posted in Birds and other biodiversity,Certifications,Research on coffee growing

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