The Status, Opportunities and Needs for Agroforestry-integrated Farming of Coffee Cultivation in Chin State and Recommendations By Michael Suantak, Chin Hills Coffee & Community Based Participatory Research
I. Executive summary
This recommendation paper highlighted Agroforestry-integrated farming practices and concepts in sustainable land use systems for coffee cultivation and production in Chin state. Coffee can cultivate with other cash crops such as Zawngtak, Avocado, and Jackfruit for shade trees, black pepper, and orchids on the shade trees, bean and maize between the coffee plants and Conjack, Alu, Sweet potato in the soil. Moreover, Cardamom can be cultivated on the coffee farms. The required natural fertilisers can be produced from domestic animals husbandry in the farms.
Myanmar is currently facing high demand in agriculture and technology which has the potential to create significant positive impacts for job creation and poverty alleviation. Chin has great topography for quality coffee cultivation and has good experiences in agriculture and animal husbandry practices. The best specialty coffee is available in Chin Hills and it has been approved by coffee experts. It needs to grow high sea level and good precipitation. Commercialised production can be implemented in Chin state with the strategic plan, systematic approach and modern cultivation techniques, agroforest-integrated farming system. The coffee drinking culture in Asia, Pacific rapidly increase, China and India are now starting consuming. Local market in Myanmar is also increasing for instant and good quality coffee. Coffee farming will be one of the long-term asset creations for passive income. This agroforestry-integrated farming model can attract eco-tourism and agro-tourism business as well.
There are two kinds of coffee varieties can be cultivated in Chin state, that are Catimor from Robusta generation, possible in lower land under 3500 feet of sea level, mass productive, but low coffee quality and low income and the s795, generation of Arabica, cultivable in over 3500 feet of sea level up to 6500 feet depending on the precipitation and climate variation. The s795 has a great quality of specialty coffee but low harvest and high pesticide. For commercial production, it can be cultivated Catuai, modified generation of Arabica. It has a higher harvest, strong resistance and dwarf tree type.
Why should we promote coffee cultivation in Chin state because:
- We have the required agroecosystem and suitable topography
- We are traditionally experienced cultivators and domestic animal husbandry
- We can produce final product in Chin state and do value adding services
- Coffee from Chin Hills has special quality which is already known by the world consumers
- Chin Coffee has market already
- Coffee can be cultivated under the agroforestry-integrated farming system
- Coffee can be preserved for years
- We don’t need to cut all trees for cultivation and that will maintain ecosystem
- Coffee farms can reserve deforestation
- We still can get firewood from coffee farm
- We can cultivate other cash crops on the shade trees, between coffee plants and in the soil
- We can alleviate poverty by leveraging income
- We can produce other products from used coffee wages
III. Current situation
Coffee is a highly labor-intensive crop but why it is so cheap in Myanmar because it is still a low-profit crop in Myanmar and many farmers have chosen to stop planting coffee and switch to more lucrative items. Many coffee cultivators in Myanmar included Chin farmers facing lack of market demand, technical and financial support while the international coffee market is strong and high demand. Coffee is still a cheap commodity in Myanmar the consumers and growers don’t see the opportunities as a premium product.
Coffee cultivation in Myanmar started since in the late of 18 century. However, commercial production is still relatively small amounts. Coffee cultivation and production in Myanmar was as follow. In 2012-2013 statistic, cultivation 1283 acres, production 912 acres and total yield 156 Metric-ton in Chin state while the whole Myanmar cultivation 60820.9 acres, production 26991.5 acres and total yield 7441 MT. The annual growth rate in global coffee consumption has averaged 2 percent since 2011, and the world consumed the equivalent of 152.2 million 60kg bags in 2015, according to the intergovernmental International Coffee Organisation.
Most smallholder farmers cannot provide the investments needed to transform their agricultural systems into more climate-smart and sustainable systems with higher soil fertility and greater diversity.
- Agroforestry-integrated farming
Agroforestry-integrated farming has been defined as a dynamic ecologically based natural resources management system that through the integration of trees and domestic animals on farms and in the agricultural landscape, diversifies and sustains production for increased social, economic and environmental benefits for land users at all levels. Indeed the advantage of agroforestry is all encompassing and germane to a sustainable production system and livelihood.
Advantages of agroforestry-integrated farming
- Consistent restoration of the fertility status of the soil through the recycled litter deposition and nitrogen fixing mechanism of trees.
- A variety of products, firewood, poles, woodcraft, fodder, medicinal herbs and food for livestock and man respectively.
- Prevention of wind and water erosion by trees acting as a wind break and intercepting the raindrop impact on the soil respectively.
- Improving the micro-climate effect of the immediate and adjourning environment.
- Restoration of the water table to an absorbable level for crops use.
- Increased income opportunities.
- Increased economic stability.
- Reduce cost for establishing the plantation.
- Increased ability to manage for sustained yield.
- Need and recommendations
- Agriculture, forestry and animal husbandry vocational training centre should be implemented in Chin state.
- Local and International experts should be invited to research, training and investment.
- Should encourage and support on agriculture, forestry and animal husbandry field and the market potential in Chin state.
- Book in Burmese and English on those fields should be translated into local dialects and make them available with low cost and mass coverage.
- Need hospitality and communication skills training to develop eco-tourism and agri-tourism businesses.
- Regional and international delegation should be invited and initiate exchange program.
- Media channel to educate on green knowledge development including three pillars: sustainable intensification, green transformation and biodiversity business.
- Should support training of farmers and processors, educating the domestic hospitality, restaurant and catering sector on coffee appreciation techniques and providing hospitality services.
- Need farmers, buyers and consumers to understand the real taste of quality coffee to change the perception.
- Government departments should encourage and support for land registration ease, affordable and reliable.
- Banking, corporate CSR and charity sectors should support the implementation of agriculture, forestry and animal husbandry development.
- The government should support marketing and have planned for the subsidy.
- The government should support and take a role for SME development loan.
- The government should encourage the public and private sector to initiate commercial production factory in Chin state.
- Encourage and support to grow coffee according to international standard practice.
- Should have supporting education include soil fertility, pollination, pest regulation, and water holding capacity.
- The government should arrange to support smallholders need both technical know-how and a technical and financial support system that acknowledges and favours sustainable approaches.
- Government program should directly or indirectly acknowledge and support organic products which will strengthen the agroforestry-integrated farming system.
- Implement support institution and mechanism for farmers in Chin state.
- Agriculture, forestry and animal husbandry focus research lab should be operated in Chin state with the local and international experts.
- Chin community should encourage the young generation to study agriculture, forestry and animal husbandry fields.
- Technical skills training and virtual learning system should initiate in Chin state and should be affiliated by the international corporate or institutes.
- The government policy should encourage public participation, emphasised the important roles of multi-stakeholder collaboration amongst the government, the private sector, and the local communities.
- Coordination for sustainable development of agriculture with regional and international cooperation.
- Land use policies and taxation should be east, affordable and applicable.
- The policy should promote agroforestry-integrated farming research and recognise the achievement.
- Organic farming should be encouraged and acknowledge the farmers.
- Need to have the strategic plan for agroforestry-integrated farming development including market research, finance, technical assistance, farmer training and which strains should be planted more widely.
- Government programme should aim to increase the sustainability of the agricultural system by highlighting the environmental services smallholder farmers do provide and laying out what is required to sustain and further improve these services. For example, farmers can benefit from payments for ecosystem services.
- The government should have planned to cover the risks of investor and smallholder caused by climate change and unstable political situation.
- The coffee planting cluster should be formed and have the regular meeting.
- The programme should further strengthen these developments with an aim to promote green transformation.
- Training school should provide key activities include knowledge generation, strategy development and support to innovative pilots.
- Supporting specifically small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in rural areas is an important development strategy.
- Collaborate with the foreign universities and institutions for generating new insights into the environmental and social benefits of biodiversity-oriented business models.
- There should be experimental incubation fund for research and biodiversity development.
- The Myanmar Government has a key responsibility in providing the enabling environment to develop the coffee industry and ensure there are marketing channels for investors to transport, process, and market and export their produce.
- Background, purpose and acknowledgements
We the lovers of Coffee from Chin Hills organised community-based participatory research training in Kalay town in August 2016. From there we start practising our skills on participatory studies. We choose Coffee cultivation because people from Chin state have experiences of drinking local coffee and experienced agriculture and domestic animal husbandry. In our research, we use active data and passive data. We use the internet for communication and search data, telephone to get in touch with local farmers, experts, official and coffee consumers. We have visited some villages in Chin state and coffee mills and farms in Ywa Ngan, Shan state. We got training from Genius Coffee, FoSTA and government’s Coffee promotion department from May Myo. However, our research will not be completed due to time shortage, self-funding lack of experiences. Most of the active data we got from Northern Chin state, especially from Tedim and Tonzang township and Chin communities from Kalay town, Sagaing region.
The role of agroforestry-integrated farming in sustainable land use system cannot be overemphasised. These practices offer practical ways of applying various specialised knowledge and skills to the development of rural production systems. It evolves a synergy among agricultural production, animal husbandry and forestry that is beneficial for increased food production, sustainable wood production and improvement of the quality of the soil and economics. This is a win-win situation.
Agroforestry is a land use system that can achieve social, economic and environmental sustainability – by combining “food production, income generation, and promotion of environmental services”.
However, not all agroforestry options are viable everywhere, and the current state of knowledge offers very little guidance on what systems work where for whom and under what circumstances.
The following is a selection from the host of open questions that remain unanswered for most places:
- What tree species work best under given site conditions?
• Which tree-crop-site combinations are characterised by synergistic interactions, which ones by trade-offs?
• What are extension methods most effective for the promotion of climate-smart agroforestry systems?
• Which agroforestry systems support healthy, ecologically functional landscapes?
• How can ecosystem service delivery through agroforestry systems be optimised?
• How will agroforestry species respond to climate change?
• Are adaptation benefits from agroforestry greater than those of alternative land uses?
• How, if at all, can smallholder farmers benefit from carbon payments?
This list is by no means exhaustive. In fact, knowledge gaps in agroforestry are greater than the actual body of knowledge on most aspects. It is therefore essential that research efforts on these important cropping systems are intensified, so that future scaling-up of agroforestry can be rooted in robust scientific findings rather than the intuitions of governments and development actors. This special issue addresses some of the current research questions, introduces some innovative ways to conceptualise agroforestry systems and provides an overview of the status quo of agroforestry science, on which future research can build. We hope that this collection of papers will stimulate more research in tree-based farming systems so that the host of its potential benefits can reach much more farmers throughout Myanmar in the future.