October 12, 2021. According to data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), coffee cultivation has great relevance in economic and social terms. Its gross value has been estimated at over USD 16 billion and it represents one of the main sources of income for around 20 million smallholder families. In addition, different research has shown that traditional shade coffee systems serve as a refuge for a great variety of plant and animal species, playing an important role in the conservation of biodiversity.
In order to highlight and raise awareness among coffee growers and technicians of the importance of birds and bees in the production of coffee crops, the project "Conserving Neotropical Migratory Birds through the Management of Ecosystem Services in Coffee Farms" recently published a guide of good practices for the conservation of birds and bees and the ecosystem services that they provide to coffee producing families.
Coffee plantations benefit from the pest control service provided by migratory and resident birds, as well as from the pollination service provided by native and non-native bees.
“It is known that at least 20 different types of birds consume the coffee berry borer (a pest that affects the coffee fruit), thus reducing the amount of budded fruit, in some cases by up to 58%. It is also known that bees help coffee plants to produce more and larger fruits; at least 80 different types of bees visit coffee flowers", stated Alejandra Martínez-Salinas, researcher at CATIE (Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center) and co-author of the publication, together with Adina Chain-Guadarrama and Elías de Melo Virginio Filho, also researchers at the Center.
"The guide then includes a series of recommendations or best practices on how coffee growers can increase the presence of birds and bees on their farms and thus increase their coffee production," said Martinez-Salinas.
For example, the guide details that it is important to reduce or avoid the use of herbicides and insecticides, especially during the flowering period of coffee plantations; to increase the number and type of trees within the farms; as well as to conserve or reforest forest patches and if possible plant trees or shrubs that produce flowers at different times of the year.
“All of these actions or best practices will help to improve the home and the food available for the birds and bees. The benefits of biodiversity to coffee production are clear, so the decisions on how to manage a coffee plantation will make the difference to be able to enjoy coffee for many years to come", emphasized Martínez-Salinas
If you are interested in reviewing and downloading the publication Conservation of birds, bees and the ecosystem services they provide to coffee production: a guide to good practices, you can do so . here.
In order to facilitate access to this information in a simple manner, the project also developed two educational posters. The first one summarizes the contributions of birds and bees to the productivity of coffee crops, emphasizing how to conserve them and increase their presence in coffee farms; while the second one explains in greater detail the role of birds as controllers of the coffee berry borer, highlighting the main birds that can be seen in coffee plantations in the Central American region and that are known to be consumers of the coffee berry borer.
Both posters are available for free download and use here:
The project Conserving Neotropical Migratory Birds through Ecosystem Services Management on Coffee Farms was implemented by CATIE in coordination with the Gund Institute for the Environment at the University of Vermont, and funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) through the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act (NMBCA).
The educational posters and best practices guide presented here were developed in collaboration with the Central American Program for the Integrated Management of Coffee Rust (PROCAGICA, its Spanish acronym), and with the support of the Tropical Apiculture Research Center (CINAT, its Spanish acronym) of the National University (UNA, its Spanish acronym) of Costa Rica, the Costa Rican Coffee Institute (Icafe, its Spanish acronym) and the Natural Capital Project (NatCap) of Stanford University, United States.
Project Conserving Neotropical Migratory Birds through the Management of Ecosystem Services on Coffee Farms
Karla Salazar Leiva
Information Technology and Communication