CATIE’s Commercial Farm is dedicated to three activities: agriculture (coffee and sugarcane production), forestry, and livestock production (beef and milk production). Here are the details. The Farm has had Ecological Blue Flag recognition in Varieties of Adaptation and Mitigation since 2010 and it currently has a Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) certification project underway.
The Commercial Farm has 40 hectares in coffee that are cultivated using a conventional system which integrates environmentally friendly management practices. The main varieties in use are Caturra, Catuai Rojo, Costa Rica 95 and CATIE Hybrids. The harvest season runs from August to December and the beans are sold to national roasters and exporters.
The Farm manages 130 hectares of sugarcane in a conventional production system. The main cane varieties are Pindar, Barbados 76, Barbados 77 and Q96. The harvest season runs from February to May and the product is sold to sugar mills in the area (Atirro-Juan Viñas).
The Farm has 130 hectares for forest production. The main species are pine, eucalyptus, laurel, cedro, melina, and others. The wood is sold to buyers in the area as logs. Some agreements have been made with organizations dedicated to reforestation such as Fonafifo, RTT (Reforest the Tropics) and the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). In the past two years the Farm has been establishing a forestry area with funds from the CATIE-Natura race that is held during the annual International Fair. This area is managed as a commemorative plantation for the center.
Fifty hectares of the farm are dedicated to this activity. Males are purchased for fattening, which lasts about ten months; these males are acquired at livestock auctions in the Atlantic region and then they are sold in the CoopeMontecillos Processing Plant in Alajuela. The main breeds used are Brahman, Nelore, Gyr, as well as some crosses with European breeds. All the grazing area is managed using living fences and we do not use agrochemicals in this activity.
Dairy farming is done on 34 hectares of CATIE’s Commercial Farm. CATIE’s milk production is an intensive tropical lowland production model whose main objective is to produce quality milk at very low cost with minimal emissions. To achieve this objective, a new milking parlor was built according to animal comfort needs and to ensure proper use of wastes from the activity, especially the manure, which is used to produce organic fertilizer (bokashi) and biofertilizer (biodigester effluent). It has a biodigester that transforms biogas into electricity for mechanical milking, there are solar panels to heat water and a complete infrastructure for capturing rainwater from the roofs of the facilities. Hard work has been done in recent years in genetic enhancement of the herd, producing ideal animals for milk production in tropical areas such as the Pure Jersey breeds and crosses with Sahiwal, Senepol, Taurindicus, Gyr Dairy and Swedish Red. Today the dairy has a total of 120 milk cows and the milk is sold to the Dos Pinos Cooperative of which CATIE is a member.