AgroForestry = Agriculture + Forest
Agroforestry is the interaction of agriculture and trees, including the agricultural use of trees as defined by the World Agroforestry (ICRAF)
Planting trees within and around the coffee fields helps protect the crops. Thanks to their canopy and rooting system, they reduce the impact of climate deregulations. They generate multiple benefits for these farmers and their ecosystem : natural soil enrichment with nitrogen and organic matter, erosion reduction, water depollution and regulation, biodiversity regeneration. Moreover, trees offer diversified sources of income to farmers : fruits, timber, fuelwood, medicines, and they value the land. High valued tree species can serve as well as a "safety net" for farmers, to pay for schooling or medical fees, some call them their "pension fund", as they plan to cut some of these trees when they retire to cover their expenses.
Trees are one of the best investment you can make on Earth. It costs less and takes less time to plant, and then it will generate multiple economic and ecosystem services (soil, water, biodiversity...) for many years.
AgroForestry helps fight climate change
Climate change materializes in extreme climatic events and storms. The harvests of small-scale coffee farmers are already directly affected by prolonged droughts and heavy rains. This happens more and more often, with major impacts on crops. Moreover, damages are increased when the ecosystem is already degraded: erosion, aridification, pollution and lack of biodiversity... Farms need to be regenerated and more diversified to increase their resilience and adaptation to these climatic changes.
This is key to deliver great quality coffee too. You need a rich, robust and diversified ecosystem to deliver a grand cru. Climate change comes from the excess of greenhouse gases, of which Co2, present in the atmosphere. Trees absorb and sequester Co2 and transforms it into oxygen, hence, they are a perfect match to serve as "carbon sinks", to offset our climate footprint. You may already know this, and it's true, trees are a privileged way to balance human activities with Nature.
AgroForestry is essential to The Western Ghats
97% of the coffees that are grown in India are from The Western Ghats region which runs along the western side of the Indian peninsula. The Western Ghats of India is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the biodiversity hotspots in the world.
About a third of the geographical area of the Western Ghats is under forests of diverse types—evergreen to semi-green forests, moist to deciduous forests, etc. This region is rich in biodiversity and is a treasure house of several known and unknown flora and fauna. The Western Ghats mountains play an important role in conserving a balanced weather conditions especially during monsoon as the mountains intercept the rain-bearing westerly monsoon winds to usher in the Monsoon season. The dense forests also contribute to the precipitation of the area by acting as a substrate for condensation of moist rising orographic winds from the sea, and releasing much of the moisture back into the air via transpiration, allowing it to later condense and fall again as rain.
Due to demographic and economic pressures, market failures and inappropriate policies, the bio-diversity of the region is in various stages of degradation and therefore needs to be conserved.
Cultivating shade grown coffee in this region is extremely valuable for conservation of Western Ghats, one of most the ecologically sensitive zones in the World.