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Caficultura in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta - an activity that integrates research, technological development and the strength of a union

11/01/2015

Developing sustainable coffee in the Department of Magdalena requires a technological implementation based primarily on knowledge of the peculiarities of our environmental supply and global importance of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. The history of coffee in this mountainous area dates back to the late nineteenth century; time when large estates were established in the jurisdiction of the current District of Santa Marta. From its beginning, it was understood that the climate and rainfall distribution coffee of the north of the country; characterized by “mono-modal” rainy seasons from April to December, forced to establish crops under shade and develop sowing and harmonized maintenance on this natural dynamics. It has been an economic history of peaks and valleys, good times; but also crisis generated by different factors: the effects of internal conflict in the 80’s and 90’s; the incidence of extreme weather events as “El Niño” and “La Niña” with the resulting impacts on the productivity of the coffee plantations, have brought challenges to the producer of the Sierra has been able to take on and beat, with great skill, technical support, timely investments and a high sense of belonging in front of his activity. In 2007 a strategic plan began to increase competitiveness of coffee in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta; considering that culture conditions for their shade, concentrated harvest and differentiated attributes cup was already recognized as a “special coffee” in international markets and domestic.

They were changing the predominant varieties, Typica and Caturra, resistant to fungi and adapted to regional environmental conditions; developed by the National Coffee Research Centre - Cenicafé - in the experimental substation Pueblo Bello (Cesar), in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. The progress in changing variety of moving from an average of 1,500 old trees Typica variety (high note) to an average of 5,000 new, short-statured “Castillo” variety trees. This results in both a radical change in crop management, as greater potential in terms of productivity. As we begin 2015, we completed 9,215 hectares of coffee planted with a variety Castillo and must renew the goal of 1,500 hectares, thanks to a project funded by the Climate Adaptation Fund. With all these efforts, it is suggested that in a few years, the coffee plantations in the Sierra Nevada will become true forest arrangements aimed at producing “sustainable coffees” with high productivity; So not only it is required to address the coffee diseases; but also achieve maximum productivity - based on responsibility and environmental sustainability - to counteract situations like domestic price volatility, affected by the reference price of the market; changes in the exchange rate and the Colombian coffee premium.

Producers have available technology (developed by Cenicafé) and the opportunity to adopt it by a strong process of rural extension. The economic and environmental sustainability of Colombian coffee is a social union and unprecedented challenge. The success of this private initiative; coupled with a remarkable institutional strength, may be the alternative of sustainable development for more than 5,000 families in rural, indigenous and entrepreneurs in the Magdalena Department.

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