In the Mexican highlands of Chiapas, coffee cultivation is resuming after a rust crisis. A disease caused by the fungus Hemileia vastatrix, caused the crop to be abandoned in much of the region. Today, with 20 community nurseries and techniques such as the vermicompost leachate, a compost tea made by worms, the slopes are green again.
The Small Grants Programme (SGP) is working to revive coffee plantations devastated by disease. The initiative, financed by the Global Environment Facility, provided training for coffee farmers, so they can improve their incomes while working with nature.
In El Soconusco, producers were about to clear the forest to create open pastures. They felt they had no choice since Moniliophthora roreri, a fungus which rots the pods of cocao plants, was killing their livelihoods.
Through the agroecological management of the plantations, it was possible to reduce the fungus by 70%. The management of cocoa under shade, not only helps us to maintain biodiversity but also to maintain the microclimate, water services and stop the deterioration of the landscape.
Together with the president of the cooperative “Familias Productoras Agroecologicas de Cacao del Soconusco” SC, Fidermina Pérez Morales, the SGP team inaugurated a new cocoa processing centre. It has a solar dryer and wood fermenter, which will allow the cooperative to sell cocoa at a much better price. Families in the cooperative have begun to produce chocolate, which will allow agro-tourism to complement their economic activity. Cocoa farming is being reborn on the mountains of the Triunfo Biosphere Reserve.