Coffee farmers in Nepal almost always choose shade-grown coffee. In fact, more and more farmers in Nepal are abandoning the practice of clearing land and forests in favor of growing high-quality shade-grown Arabica coffee.
Arabica coffee beans thrive and have the best flavor when they are grown in their most natural environment: the shade. Lush canopies of fruit trees and other indigenous trees allow these coffee plants and their cherries to mature and ripen slowly.In the shade, cherries have more time to develop their unique flavor. The plants also benefit from being fed and protected by fallen foliage and by the beneficial insects and wildlife drawn to the lush forested areas. This creates a unique ecosystem that naturally nourishes plants and protects them from pests. It also reduces or eliminates the need for pesticides and fertilizers. Shade coverage and fallen foliage also slows down water evaporating from the soil and this helps decrease water usage on coffee farms.
For coffee farmers in Nepal, shade-grown coffee is a more sustainable and profitable option than any other legal cash crop. In addition to fetching a higher price in the domestic and international markets, shade-grown coffee allows farmers to cut their dependency on expensive pesticides and fertilizers. This is especially important in the Himalayan region as most coffee growers are small-scale farmers that can use their savings in more meaningful ways like providing basic education for their children.
For coffee lovers, this means exceptional, flavorful, organic coffee from the Himalayas. For all of us who care about the environment and climate change, it also means reforestation and the elimination of carbon from the atmosphere. These forests in the Himalayas also create safe havens for birds and wildlife species that once vanished from the area due to deforestation.
And, the future of coffee farming in Nepal couldn’t be brighter. The country has ample unused land that is perfectly suited for growing shade-grown coffee, especially in its steep and hilly terrains. Currently, coffee is grown on only 11 square miles in the entire country, although more than 4,000 square miles of land is suitable for growing coffee.
The 1995 & 2005 picture shows the remarkable land transformation that happened where our coffee farmer grew shade-grown coffee in a previously deforested area.
Some research courtesy of The Kathmandu Post, The Exotic Bean.