About the difficulty of organic farming in the tropics
Following the purchase, in 2012, of a coffee tree planted land, since then named Finca Aracari, one of our first wishes was a transition to organic growing. With no experience in coffee cultivation, we asked an agricultural engineer for advice. With benevolent mockery, he clearly gave us his opinion that this was not possible in a tropical climate. We were, of course, not content with just this first opinion and sought advice from organic producers in various regions of Costa Rica. During the 2012-2013 harvest, the coffee Rust epidemic greatly reduced yields in all Central America. Organic producers were obviously particularly affected and many of them, whom we met between 2013 and 2015, discouraged us to convert to organic growing in view of the difficulties they had encountered. Beside Rust, another particular point has dampened our determination to switch to organic growing : the important presence in the area of "Terciopelo" (Bothrops asper), an especially dangerous snake, because, unlike most snakes, it does not run away at the approach of humans. Furthermore, the tall grass around the coffe trees offers it shelter, and, especially during harvest time when most of the work is done, though we use mechanic brush cutters to cut the grass, the gatherers are at great risk of being bitten if we do not also use some herbicide. This same problem arises, when considering the parallel growth of vegetable around the coffee trees, to increase the nitrogen input which is necessary to insure enough yield of the coffee trees. The vegetables, as the grass, also harbour the snakes and again present a work hazard for the gatherers. It therefore seems difficult, in the future, to meet all the constraints related to organic production. We nevertheless hope to limit the use of pesticides as much as possible and by introducing the Rust resistant variety « obata » gradually over a period of 3 to 4 years, which should greatly reduce chemical treatments.