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Shade-Grown Coffee for Hawai'i

IMG_1672_CElevitchACan the income potential of coffee be sustained when the crop is combined with the environmental benefits of a forest?

A recent study provides some answers for Hawai'i coffee farmers. The coffee plant originated in the forests of Africa, where it evolved as an understory tree.

Mimicking this native growth habit, some Kona farmers cultivate coffee together with various shade species, such as fruit, native Hawaiian, and timber trees.

In a recent research project funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Hawai'i County, twelve Kona farms with shade-grown coffee were examined.   The study investigated a number of factors, such as how extensively coffee trees can be shaded without reducing productivity, the damage caused by major insect pests and plant diseases, fostering of wildlife habitat, and the amount of carbon sequestered within shade-grown coffee systems. The farms incorporated several different types of shade, including mixed fruit and nut orchards, monkeypod, macadamia nut, 'ōhi'a lehua, and koa.

View the full 22-page study report and online video clips of interviews with farmers

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