Unusually, for Chiapas, where Coffee Leaf Rust (CLR) has decimated many traditional smallholder plots, Sierra Azul members focus on traditional varieties such as Typica, Mundo Novo and Bourbon. In order to maintain the health of plants, renovation and shade control is highly encouraged and supported by the cooperative.
The majority of members have their own small nursery where they grow seedlings using the best cherries from the previous year’s harvest. Sierra Azul conducts trainings on establishing nurseries, seedling maintenance and planting, and wide range of pruning methods that ensure optimal health for coffee trees. These activities enable members to grow high quality, traditional varieties without resorting to chemical pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers.
The cooperative also runs a centralized nursery where they trial new varieties, such as Geisha, and conduct a wide range of farmer trainings. Here, they also conduct experiments on organic controls for CLR. They have already seen significant improvements in yields amongst their producers by utilizing some of these methods.
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