The Benefits of Organic Coffee are manifold
In the beginning, all coffee was organic and shade grown. Coffee cultivation began in the ninth century in Africa and since most varieties of coffee are naturally intolerant of direct sunlight, coffee was originally grown under shade trees, most often fruit and nut trees which also helped to replenish the soil with valuable nutrients and allowed the land to remain fertile generation after generation.
Beginning in the 1970s, full sun coffee varieties were developed to increase productivity by allowing coffee plants to be grown closer together. As a result, chemical fertilizers and pesticides such as DDT, marathon, and benzene hex chloride had to be used to compensate for the lack of nutrients being added back into the soil. These types of chemicals harm the soil they are used on by destroying natural soil organisms, the surrounding wildlife including insects, birds and other larger species, adjacent water supplies, the farm workers themselves, and the taste of the coffee.
The increasing number of full sun coffee plantations has also led to incredible deforestation of tropical forests around the world, particularly in Central America and Mexico. This has destroyed the natural habitat of many varieties of flora and fauna, especially migratory songbirds and butterflies that fly annually between Latin America and the United States.
Fortunately, increasing consumer awareness of damage to our environment and our health through harmful production methods has led to greater demand for organic products, although organically produced consumer goods still only account for a small percentage of all grocery sales. Organically and shade-grown coffee sales currently represent about 1% of the U.S. market for coffee beans.
We Tribal peoples of New Guinea are not familiar with any fertilizers, let alone chemical pesticides or herbicides. We only know the organic way of farming.
Right now, the Baliem Arabica cooperative as the leading coffee industry developer in West Papua is campaigning against the use of any chemical products during plantation or production processes.
The cooperative is fully owned by tribal peoples ourselves and we are now exporting our organic coffee around the world as we have been granted licence to export coffee since 2009.
All of the farmers practice the way our ancestors have been practicing in our farming methods, i.e., without herbicides or pesticides and always under the shades of trees.
We know from our ancestors that cutting down a tree is killing our own lives, and we make forests as our own homes. We spend more time in the forests than in the “hut” or “house where we sleep”. We cannot, just for the sake of planting coffee, clear the forests, because it is just the same is committing suicide. We also plant trees that we have known since our ancestors that can protect and nurture other plants (unfortunately we do not know the English or Latin names of these trees).
We would like to state that
- Organic is the way our ancestors lived;
- Organic is our life today;
- Organic is the way our children will live;
- Because we know not from teachings and academic research but from our own ancestors and experience that “organic” is the only way that saves us from committing suicide.
- Strongly refuse introduction of any chemical substances in the name of fertilizers, pesticides or whatever it is;
- Strongly refuse any modification of the genetics of our coffee. Many farmers in Indonesia are planting hybrid coffee. We strongly refuse this path.
- Strongly refuse any introduction of even organic fertilizers, because we can produce our “own” organic fertilizers whenever we need it.