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Protecting the Thread of Life

Colombia is the world’s second largest producer of Arabica coffee, with more than 20,000 hectares devoted to coffee production in the Magdalena department alone; a region which also contains the world’s tallest coastal mountain range, the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, which rises from sea level to 5,700 m. Land use from coffee production and climate change threaten the area’s high endemic biodiversity, including 46 species of amphibians. Current coffee production practices impact nearby watersheds, on which millions of Columbians and the endemic amphibians rely. These practices reduce pH and dissolved oxygen due to pesticide use and promote sedimentation and excess nutrient loading, all with negative consequences for human health, biodiversity, and the sustainability of coffee production.

This GCSO-funded project will promote the increased adoption of sustainable coffee cultivation practices through water quality and amphibian monitoring activities to support increased adoptions of water filtration systems and reduced agrochemical use. As a result, improved water quality in coffee production watersheds will promote sustainable coffee cultivation, improved human health, and increased biodiversity conservation. This project is in collaboration with a number of local stakeholders, including ProCAT Colombia, the National Colombian Coffee Farmers Federation, the University of Magdelena and the Borlaug Institute- Center for Coffee Research and Education. Outcomes also include FrogFriendlyCoffee certification and trainer to trainer programs, which will be used to scale this project model to other coffee growing regions in Latin America, including Mexico, Costa Rica, and Guatemala.

In one year of GCSO funding, this project will:

  • Scale the adoption of water filtration systems currently in use
  • Train farmers on filtration and water quality monitoring techniques
  • Create guidelines for a Frog Friendly Coffee certification program
  • Develop strong partnerships in the region to promote sustainable coffee production

GCSO Participants:
Arizona State University (ASU)

  1. Beth Polidoro, School of Mathematical and Natural Sciences

Universidad National Autónoma de México

  1. Gerardo Ceballos, Instituto de Ecología

Implementing Partners:

  • ProCAT Colombia
  • National Colombian Coffee Farmers Federation
  • University of Magdelena
  • Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture at Texas A&M
  • Center for Coffee Research and Education at Texas A&M