Shade Grown & Carbon Sequestration

Carbon dioxide emissions have increased exponentially in the last century thereby increasing atmospheric CO2 from 300 to 400ppm. Perennial plants and trees sequester this carbon in hardwood, i.e. stems, roots and brown wood branches. The sequestration of carbon from atmospheric CO2 in shade grown coffee farms is very high. In fact coffee farms in India sequester carbon in shade trees and coffee bushes equal to or more than their own annual emissions.

The carbon footprint of an agricultural unit is the net of its carbon emissions, including direct or indirect inputs, such as transport, manufactured inputs, etc., to the quantity of carbon sequestered in its annual wood growth increase. Coffee farms in India are Carbon neutral/positive. This means that, coffee cultivated in India are not only mitigating its own emissions, but possibly mitigating a part of coffees’ off farm emissions. 

Independent studies have shown that coffees produced in shade grown environments are carbon neutral/positive. However as there are no financial incentives in the form of UNFCC carbon credits, etc., no detailed carbon audits are carried out, these being expensive.

A study to understand the carbon footprint and means to monetize the same to the farmer, will go a long way in encouraging better and improved biodiversity management. Currently there is a trend to reduce shade trees for improved yields to mitigate stagnant prices and increased costs.

Support for a compensation programme from the consuming industry can go a long way in making the Indian coffee industry uniquely carbon neutral.

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Author - Gaurav

Is the Lead for Coffee Academy & Flavour Science at Humblebean

He was the Quality assistant manager at Tata Coffee, and Lead production-in-charge for Roast & Ground and Starbucks operations. He holds a Masters in Coffee Economics and Science (University of Trieste, Italy) Scholarship from Ernesto Illy Foundation. Gaurav will help set up Humblebean’s Coffee lab & academy, and expand our blend development initiatives.