Evaluation of Hawai‘i Coffee Agroforestry Systems

New 2-year research project will study shade-grown coffee in Hawai‘i
The ecological and economic benefits of shade-grown coffee agroforestry systems have been recognized for many years throughout the tropics, but have been little studied in Hawai‘i. Over the past few years, innovative farmers in Kona and elsewhere in Hawai‘i have begun experimenting with shade-grown coffee. These farmers and others considering coffee agroforestry are in need of technical assistance based on research. This project will study twelve existing shade-grown coffee orchards and compare them with open-grown coffee based on five key indicators: soil organic matter, major insect pests, yield and bean quality, production costs and market values, and environmental conditions (shade levels, tree density, plant species present, etc.).

We expect that shadegrown coffee has potential for wider adoption, as a number of farmers have adopte this practice on their own during recent years. To date, no comprehensive studies have been carried out on shade-grown coffee in Hawai‘i to show its feasibility. The new information gathered by this project over a 2-year period will be made available to USDA personnel, university cooperative extension, farmers, and the general public so that they can make more informed decisions about shade-grown coffee. This project will also produce a publication showing the potential benefits and drawbacks of coffee agroforestry.

The $120,000 project has been sponsored by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Conservation Innovation Grant program and the County of Hawai‘i Department of Research and Development in partnership with the Big Island Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) Council, with matching contributions from the project collaborators’ organizations. Project collaborators include the University of Hawai‘i’s Dr. Travis Idol, Dr. J. B. Friday, Virginia Easton Smith, and Dr. Mark Wright, and farmer representatives Melanie Bondera, Ken Sheppard, and Denver Leaman. The Big Island RC&D Council is a 501c3 non-profit corporation registered in the State of Hawai‘i. The RC&D Program is a public-private partnership administered by NRCS that assists individuals and organizations with grant acquisition and fiscal management for beneficial community projects.

For further information, please contact the project director Craig Elevitch, Permaent Agriculture Resources, PO Box 428, Holualoa, Hawaii 96725, Tel: 808-324-4427; Email: par@agroforestry.net

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