Animal World
 
From Fields to Families: Nuturing Organic Coffee Beans in Colombia      
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Today’s Animal World: Our Co-Inhabitants will be presented in Spanish, with subtitles in Arabic, Aulacese (Vietnamese), Chinese, English, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Mongolian, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Thai.

Hallo, free-thinking viewers, and welcome to our program. Today we will find out about the cultivation of one of the world’s most popular fruits. Coffee beans are the seeds found in coffee cherries, which grow on small, evergreen bushes in warm climates with plenty of rain. Coffee is cultivated in over 70 countries, with Brazil being the largest producer, followed by Âu Lạc (Vietnam), Colombia and Indonesia.

Green or unroasted coffee beans are among the world’s most widely traded agricultural commodities, and coffee is one of the most popular beverages on our planet. Every day, millions of people enjoy a wonderful conversation or a good dinner with a flavorful cup of coffee. Some of our animal friends also enjoy the unique fruit of the coffee plant. For example, in Indonesia, small cat-like animals called Civets love to consume the ripe berries.

Now, have you ever wondered how these delicious, aromatic beans are cultivated? Let’s take a trip to the town of Pulí Cundinamarca, located in central Colombia, to visit Asomadero, a beautiful farm famous for its high quality, organically grown coffee beans. Asomadero is managed by members of Eco Real, an association of 28 organic producers located in the western part of Cundinamarca Department that specializes in producing and processing organic foods. First, let’s hear from César Labrador, an Eco Real associate.

We are at the Asomadero farm, in the town of Pulí Cundinamarca, at an altitude of 1,300 meters. And we have a system of wild cultivation of coffee, cacao and plantain or banana. Also, to provide shade, we have trees such as purple oaks and mahogany trees.

A crop’s quality depends on the richness of the soil it’s raised in. So to ensure their plants grow healthy, the soil at Asomadero is enhanced by adding nutrients and bacteria.

Well, we are in the part of the bio-factory where we handle all the microorganisms and broths in dry form, which add strength to all the fertilizers that we use in these plantations of coffee, cacao and banana. It takes us approximately three months to develop broths and effective microorganism (EM) bacteria, which we apply four times a year during the stages of cultivation. The dry broths contain phosphorus sulfates, potassium, copper, zinc, iron, calcium, magnesium, microelements which help the development of plants.

When Asomadero’s coffee plants are cultivated, weeds such as horsetails are allowed to grow between the plants. Weeds play an important role in the cultivation process as they eventually decompose and enrich the soil.

One of the characteristics of the agro-ecological production systems like the one we have implemented at the Asomadero production unit associated with Eco Real, is the system and management of the soils. Currently, the soil conditions of the production unit where we are located are very complex, very challenging because the soil is mainly clay. So it has little organic matter content. Basically, we recycle nutrients, giving the soil a base or an organic cushion, which is going to be advantageous for the plants themselves.

In this case, as we can see, there is a recycling of nutrients. Those are plants and leaves that have been decomposing over the years and have become land, have become mulch, a cushion so that the plants themselves can benefit from it. Aside from this, under the intense, summer conditions that we have right now, this mulch helps to recycle the water. It prevents the evaporation of water, which would happen under the normal conditions of conventional, modern cultivation.

Now let’s meet John Andrés Garzon Zárate who will show us how the beans are germinated.

Good morning, my name is John Andrés Garzon Zárate. I am an OMATA technician from the municipality of Pulí. Right now I am going to explain the way to start the coffee germination process. So, here we have the germinator, and according to the amount of seeds, we have meal to facilitate their germination, and allow the roots to be of excellent quality. The seedling takes two- to two-and-a-half months to germinate. After it sprouts, we plant it in the bag, which contains three parts of sand per one of manure, or humus.

I am going to explain to you about the sowing of the coffee plantlet. Here we have an “enchapolador.” We call it that. We proceed the following way; we do this. A hole is already made and according to the depth of the root, we proceed to plant it. In this way, we have performed the transplanting of the coffee plantlet to the bag. We must take care when putting it in the bag to avoid breaking the root, which is the main source of strength during the time that it will stay in the bag.

Here we observe the ideal plant to sow and take it now to where the Castilla variety coffee will be established. We can observe how its leaves have developed. It should be, more or less, 12 to 15 centimeters high to be sown. We continue with the next step, which is to mark the site for sowing. This production unit currently has 960 coffee plants growing.

What we are going to do is, we are going to do a demonstration of how we start planting. The soil conditions are very complex because the soil here is extremely high in clay, very compact and has slight traces of gravel. That is to say, it is very rocky. So let’s work the soil, in which we will make a base of 30 centimeters by 30 centimeters by 30 centimeters, which are the minimum requirements that a coffee plant needs in order to be able to develop.

Let’s do a mixture of approximately two to four kilograms of compost, of organic matter, decomposed and transformed, to amend the soil and improve its chemical and physical characteristics to make a porous and suitable environment for the plant. As we see, the characteristics of the soil are not suitable for ordinary farmers, it is a soil not suitable for agriculture.

But as we can see reflected in all organic production systems, not suitable is something which is a fantasy, something that isn’t really true because all soil can be worked according to the extent that you want it to be.

The method of planting is very simple. We just need to mark the land, and with a spade or an auger, we proceed to make the appropriate hole. We put crushed material at the bottom so that when the roots start to grow, already mixed with the compost, they start taking root, because, in a coffee plant, one of the roots is a tap root that tends to go straight down.

The coffee bushes are planted among trees, such as banana and cacao. This practice, called “shade growing” makes the field more beautiful and welcoming to birds and insects, and also has other benefits.

One of the aspects of shade growing is the protection. It is protective because in the early months of the establishment of the coffee plants, they are very susceptible to solar rays. So banana trees, the cacao bush, and other mature trees that are already established protect the plant in all dimensions. But in addition, coffee, as a food item, also tends to assimilate smells and flavors even in the cultivation phase.

So if the coffee is associated with citrus trees like oranges and lemons, it tends to have some citrus flavor. If the coffee is established near cacao, it tends to have some chocolate flavor. That is a main feature and that is why the coffee of our association’s brand, Caminos Reales, is a gourmet coffee.

The harvesting of coffee beans requires considerable effort, knowledge and skill and is truly a labor of love.

The essential aspect of the harvest of Colombian coffee is based primarily on the collection of only mature beans, which is only done by hand. The ripe coffee bean has a greater weight. As the sales in Colombia are basically based on loads equivalent to 125 kilograms, what the farmer basically wants is to produce the greatest amount of weight, with the least amount of beans, which is achieved basically with the ripe beans.

Another feature is the taste. When it achieves this degree of ripening, and is cherry red in color, the flavor is milder and sweeter. And that is the fundamental characteristic of the Colombian coffee. It is a mild coffee of medium body. Why? Thanks to the harvesting at this state of ripening.

Why is it better to drink coffee that’s been grown organically?

Throughout its production, in organic foods there is no use or application of any synthetic element such as urea, nitrates, or nitrites. Organic farming basically ensures sustainability and foremost, since its guarantee is sustainability, it plays a main role because soil conditions always will be suitable and, contrary to conventional agriculture, organic agriculture always improves the ideal conditions for the establishment of any crop.

And just to make a comparison, 50 years ago when the Green Revolution began, the cancer rate was one person out of every 80 inhabitants. Today, after all the conventional methods used in food production, we are at a rate that is almost apocalyptic. One person out of every four has cancer. Everything has a direct connection with food production. Don’t forget that we are what we eat.

Our appreciation, César Labrador, John Andrés Garzon Zárate, and César Correa for introducing us to organic coffee cultivation at the Asomadero farm and informing us of the benefits of organic farming practices. You are helping heal our Earth through this sustainable type of agriculture.

For more information on Eco Real, please contact: Mr. Alejandro Martin Telephone: +57 4132859 - 310 227 52 17 Email: caminosreales@yahoo.com
Alternatively you can email caminosreales@redcolombiaverde.org or info@eco-real.org or visit www.Eco-Real.org for further details

Thoughtful viewers, thank you for watching today’s program. May we always treat our planet with utmost kindness.

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