From: Ignacio Villa, 75557,3256
TO: Bill Duesing, INTERNET:firstname.lastname@example.org
DATE: 10/6/96 11:05 PM
RE: Copy of: How is your coffee grown and other thoughts
I grew up in Colombia where the trend from growing coffee in multistoried and
diverse systems to full-sun "caturro" varieties started as early as the
beginning of the seveties, if not earlier.
Apparently similar trends werepromoted by government agencies in the Valle del
Cauca to replace Cacao plantations (also needing shade, and protected by a great
variety of trees) with soybeans, so that campesinos could become integrated into
commercial agriculture. One of the outcomes of these changes has been that
indeed, campesinos became integrated, increased their dependence on purchased
inputs, and lost their holdings.
This same story might be told about other coffee growing regions in Latin
These days in Colombia, I suppose that those who own the land continue to forge
ahead with the industrial model of agriculture. But they are not campesinos any
more. They are either the traditional landed elite, or those who earned their
money trafficking drugs. Their efforts are hindered by guerrilla groups who
capitalized on the discontent created by shortsighted landowners.
Adopting the industrial model of agriculture has been a quick process for
Colombia. But the consequenses have been sad. At this point, I do not know how
many people are going to listen to our concerns for ecologically sound,
multistoried systems, or the migratory birds that might overwinter there.
It is a crime to grow the really profitable crops, but it may be the only option
a campesino really has. I can only wonder whether it would have been wise to
be a little less arrogant about the industrial model of agriculture (Kirk Faught
9/19 called it the best in the world) without asking ourselves things like good
for what, and who will it benefit, and so on.
I think we are going to have to start paying a lot of money for organic coffee.
But we must remember that we are paying for other things as well: Peace, birds,
healthy people, and hopefully not just a smart marketing expert somewhere in
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