Monday, August 11, 2008
By Emmanuel Angleys, AFP

QUILLABAMBA, Peru -- Once bleak and lifeless places degraded by years of high-impact farming, Peruvian coffee farms are being transformed by a growing trend for certification schemes offering ethical and environmental guarantees to western consumers. 

One scheme run by the Rainforest Alliance has helped farmers in eastern Peru return to traditional ways of farming, finally laying to rest the damaging maximum production techniques of the 1970s. 

"My parents systematically deforested in order to plant more coffee plants. Now we know that this was a mistake," said Evangelino Condori Rojas who has a small plantation near Quillabamba, in the east of the country. 

The plantation was one of the first to be certified by the New York-based organization.
Its seal of approval gives consumers an assurance that the coffee they buy has been produced according to a range of criteria that balance ecological, economic and social considerations

Coffee certified by the Rainforest Alliance is guaranteed to have been produced on farms where rivers, soil and wildlife are protected. 

"The certification is a mechanism to avoid the slide towards deforestation," said Gerardo Medina of the Rainforest Alliance in Peru. 

Such schemes are increasingly popular worldwide as a way of bolstering consumer concerns. 

They typically offer guarantees on issues ranging from ethically-manufactured diamonds, pesticide-free food or the preservation of bird habitats. 

Farm owners certified by the Rainforest Alliance are also required to meet specific standards on payment and treatment of workers. 

The majority of Peru's coffee plantations are found in the eastern foothills of the Andes

Here coffee was grown in the shade of rainforest for some 150 years until the 1970s when a new system promoted by agronomists saw the clearing of trees, according to the Rainforest Alliance. 

As a result, coffee bushes were packed into hedgerows and treated with agrochemicals, decimating wildlife and causing soil erosion and pollution of streams

In addition to
the environmental benefit that certification brings, farmers also find that the coffee sells for 15 to 20 percent more and part of the profits are used for developing infrastructure, according to Raul Del Aguila, head of the central agricultural cooperative Cocla. 

The Rainforest Alliance, which is on good terms with manufacturers, started certifying coffee in Peru, Brasil, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador in 2004. 

"The marketing strategy is to persuade the big certified coffee purchasing groups that this corresponds to demand from consumers sensitized to the question of sustainable development," said Medina. 

U.S. food group Kraft Foods is the main purchaser of certified coffee from Peru. 

Currently 5.7 percent of Peruvian coffee production is certified by the Rainforest Alliance. It aims to reach 14 percent by 2013. 

The country currently has some 24,700 hectares (61,000 acres) on 7,200 farms used for producing certified coffee compared to 7,100 hectares (17,000 acres) and 1,600 farms in 2005, added Medina. 

With uncertainty over global warming, farmers have become increasingly aware of the importance of farming that is ecologically friendly. 

"One is already seeing the effects of climate change here. This year it has not rained very much and if that continues, we are going to have problems," said small plantation owner Isaias Zuniga. 

Toucans
are coming back to nest in the trees but "you no longer see monkeys or pumas," added his elderly mother Irene Paz Santacruz.

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Vocabuary

agrochemical : 農用化學品的
Andes : 安地斯山脈
assurance : 保證[U][+(that)]
avoid : 避開,躲開
aware : 知道的,察覺的[F][(+of)][+that][+wh-]
benefit : 利益,好處;優勢[U][C]
bleak : 荒涼的;無遮蔽的,遭受風吹雨打的
climate : 氣候[C][U]
consideration : 考慮[U][(+for/to)]
correspond : 符合,一致[(+to/with)]
decimate : 成批殺死
deforest : 採伐...的森林;清除...上的樹林
degraded : 被降級職的;墮落的;已失名譽的
ecological : 生態(學)的
ecologically : 生態意義上
elderly : 年長的;上了年紀的[R]
erosion : 侵蝕;腐蝕[U]
ethical : 倫理的,道德的;倫理學上的
foothills : 山麓丘陵
guarantee : 保證;商品保證;保證書[C][U][+that]
hectare : 公頃
hedgerow : 灌木樹籬,排栽灌木[C]
infrastructure : 公共建設(如鐵路、公路、下水道等)
lifeless : 無生命的,死的
mechanism : 機械裝置;機械作用
payment : 支付,付款[U]
persuade : 說服,勸服[(+into/out of)][O2]
Peruvian : 秘魯的;秘魯人的
pesticide : 殺蟲劑
plantation : 農園,大農場
purchasing : 購買
sensitize : 使敏感;【攝】使敏化
shade : 蔭;陰涼處;陰暗[the S]
specific : 特殊的,特定的[B]
stream : 小河,溪流
sustainable : 支撐得住的;能承受的
systematically : 有系統地;有組織地;有計劃地;有條不紊地
toucan : 巨嘴鳥
treatment : 對待;待遇[U]
typically : 代表性地;作為特色地;典型地
uncertainty : 不確定;不確信;易變;不可靠[U]

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