Diversifying Central American Coffee Agroforestry Systems via Revenue of Shade Trees

  • Philippe VaastEmail author
  • Mario Martínez
  • Axelle Boulay
  • Benito Dzib Castillo
  • Jean-Michel Harmand


One of the strategies farmers can adopt to reduce their vulnerability to coffee price volatility while preserving natural resources is to conquer new markets and produce eco-certified products. Does any other economically viable strategy exist to increase the income of coffee farmers? The presence of shade trees contributes significantly to the economic sustainability of coffee farms in Central America, mainly through the diversification of revenues: either through governmental subsidies and/or through the sale of tree products. The production and the sale of timber or fuel wood are an almost inevitable choice for coffee farmers in Central American regions at low to medium altitudes, where coffee plants are usually heavily shaded to buffer unfavourable ecological conditions. In addition to a diversification of revenues, the presence of shade trees on coffee farms has a positive impact on coffee quality as well as beneficial environmental effects. Indeed, wood extraction from coffee plantations reduces the exploitation of forest reserves and tree fallows.


Shade Tree Fuel Wood Coffee Plantation Large Farm Timber Species 
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The authors thank ANACAFE (Association of coffee producers of Guatemala), ICAFE (Coffee institute of Costa Rica), coffee farmers, coffee and wood traders, and other stakeholders of these commodity chains in both these countries for their valuable assistance during the surveys. The authors also thank the European Commission (project CASCA, ICA4-CT-2001-10071) and the Science and Cultural Cooperation Centre of the French Embassy in Costa Rica for their financial support of this study.


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Copyright information

© Éditions Quæ 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Philippe Vaast
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Mario Martínez
    • 3
  • Axelle Boulay
    • 4
  • Benito Dzib Castillo
    • 5
  • Jean-Michel Harmand
    • 6
  1. 1.IcrafNairobiKenya
  2. 2.UMR Eco&Sols—Écologie Fonctionnelle & Biogéochimie des Sols & Agroécosystèmes—(Montpellier SupAgro–Cirad–Inra–IRD)CiradMontpellier cedex 2France
  3. 3.Carrera Diagonal 16 No. 44-26Pasto, NariñoColombia
  4. 4.Inter-American Development BankWashington DCUSA
  5. 5.Instituto Tecnológico de ChináCampecheMéxico
  6. 6.Cirad, UMR Eco&Sols—Écologie Fonctionnelle & Biogéochimie des Sols & Agroécosystèmes—(Montpellier SupAgro–Cirad–Inra–IRD)Montpellier Cedex 2France

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