LARECAJA, Bolivia – Toucans, parrots, humming birds, and magpies are among the birds that co-exist in the Bolivian central area of Larecaja with coffee growers who have learned how to cultivate the bean without harming the environment.
The 34 members of the Larecaja Regional Ecological Coffee Producers Association (APCERL) have embraced a variety of techniques to that allow them to work in harmony with a habitat that is home to more than 160 species of birds.
APCERL’s brand is the only coffee grown in Bolivia to receive a Bird Friendly certification from BioLatina, a Peruvian-based authentication organization.
The Wildlife Conservation Society assisted the growers in winning the certification in 2013.
“As producers, we have learned to value wildlife, implementing shrub land cultivation techniques to preserve bird species,” APCERL president Fernando Hilaquita told EFE.
Instead of burning the foliage prior to planting, the farmers allow their plants to grow under the shade of trees that host a vast diversity of plants and animals.
“We respect fruit-bearing trees because we know that animals and birds eat them and it is important to them, so we leave them in the field,” Hilaquita said.
The Bird Friendly certification has enabled the APCERL growers to sell their coffee at a higher price to environmentally aware consumers both at home and in foreign markets such as Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, and the United States.
Each grower has a plot of 3-4 hectares (7-10 acres) and the environmentally friendly approach attracts not only birds but monkeys and wild hogs as well, farmer Benedicto Kea said.