Restoring degraded coffee plantations

Regional information

The project La Selva Central is an agroforestry project in the central region of Peru, nearby the town Pichanaki. The local Peruvian partner AVSF is implementing the project with technical support from ProClimate. The project region is one of the most deforested regions of Peru. As such, the project offers interesting possibilities for a landscape approach where on-farm sustainability measures reduces off-farm deforestation. The prerequisites for such a landscape approach are present in this project such as sufficient upscaling potentials and a strong network of committed local organisations, both NGO’s, regional governmental institutions and also commercial entities.


Although this project is not designed as a particular REDD project, project ‘La Selva Central’ is particularly interesting for a landscape approach because the project area is located adjacent to primary forest areas. While REDD would focus on the direct protection of these forests areas, ProClimate approaches forest protection from the smallholder perspective:  Increased farmer income (USD/ha) will reduce the need of smallholders to invade forest areas in the search for new productive land.

The objective of the project is to introduce shade trees in degraded smallholder coffee plantations and gradually diversify farmer income. Around 70 shade trees per hectare have been planted on a total of 558 hectares of degraded coffee land. At present 194 farmers are participating in the project, but there is a high potential for project expansion in this region: 6 cooperatives have showed interest in participating in the project with a total of around 6,000 hectares of coffee area.


The benefits that are expected by the measures are improved on-farm microclimate and improved soil properties (higher SOC and nutrient content). Although shade intensity does not necessarily impact coffee productivity (neither positively or negatively) several studies show that coffee bean quality improves with increasing shade. Due to this higher bean quality, the coffee from shaded systems generate on average a 10% price lift on specialty markets compared to conventional coffee. The adding of shade trees also offers direct benefits to the farmer namely an economic value of the timber and with that, more economic resilience when coffee prices drop. Adding timber shade trees can add up annual income to 30-35%. Further diversification of the coffee systems (fruit trees, crops) increases the income per hectare (USD/ha) even more. Another benefit of all these measures is that input requirements decrease (fertilizer, pesticides), resulting in reduced costs and a higher net income for the farmer. In 2015, a study of R. Jezeer and P. Verweij, confirmed ProClimate’s claim that shaded organic coffee systems in Peru are better business cases compared to more conventional coffee systems in case of economic resilience, lower input requirements, higher coffee prices and diversified income from other products.

And what is needed to achieve this? We have calculated that only a few premium cents on a pound of roasted coffee can contribute to a sustainable and climate neutral coffee supply chain.


Angel Mario Martinez Garcia: