On the 31st of July, Brigitte Cerfontaine, SCAN International Project Manager, and Juan Carlos Marenco, SCAN Guatemala National Coordinator, went on a field visit to Cooperatives including Flor del Café Tanchi, among others, in Cobán, Guatemala.
The cooperatives are implementing a system for precision fertilization based on soil samples and mapping of areas with similar soil. Based on those soil samples the farmers cooperatives can buy fertilizer that will correct the deficiencies in the soil and add fertilizer that is needed to have healthy and pest resistant plants without adding nutrients that are already available in the soil.
The tailor-made fertilizers are bit more expensive than the fertilizers they are currently buying. But these tailor-made fertilizers will correct deficiencies and add the nutrients needed by the soil and plants. The farmers were buying a local fertilizer that contains N, P, K but also over 80% of inert material. This fertilizer is cheaper but does not add the specific nutrients needed by the soil and plants. And the farmers pay for inert material.
With this specific fertilization the coffee plantations will be more productive and resilient to pests and diseases and the plants will be healthy.
Coffee tree nurseries
The farmers are also setting up coffee tree nurseries to replant their rather old plantations. The varieties of coffee that are used are more coffee Rust resistant than the current varieties that they have planted in the field. These coffee tree nurseries ensure future productive coffee plantations and income for the farmer families. The farmers are replanting up to 20% of their coffee plantations annually. In the preceding two project years farmers have already replanted some areas that will be in production from next year onwards.
The young coffee plants are planted into the field using a soil conservation measure, individual plate conservation, for each coffee plant to avoid water runoff and conserve the soil on the steep slopes where the shade grown coffee is planted.
With the implementation and technical assistance of the above mentioned Good Agricultural Practices SCAN and partners are contributing to a better and more sustainable agriculture by reducing fertilizer use, better soil health and soil conservation.
An example of a plantation that has adopted good agricultural practices in the Jalapa region is described in this success story by Rainforest Alliance (in Spanish).