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Gorongosa Coffee is a large-scale agroforestry initiative with enduring socio-economic and environmental benefits. This Mozambican based project is being implemented on Mount Gorongosa, designated as part of Gorongosa National Park due to the rich endemism and critical hydrologic function for the Greater Gorongosa Landscape. The mountain is covered in a tropical rainforest; a rainforest that once extended across the continent, supporting an explosion of wildlife. Gorongosa Coffee is currently working with a thousand families living on the Mountain with plans to reach three times that number living on the mountain; all endorsing a common vision of the integrated relationship between sustainable land use, community development, and biodiversity.
After three years spent establishing a pilot project, Gorongosa Coffee reached a milestone in 2016 by harvesting the first high quality Arabica coffee beans ever grown by small-scale producers in Mozambique. Collaborating with key stakeholders from the community, the government, and the private sector has led to innovated and integrated solutions illustrated by livelihood improvements of participating families and the proliferation and conservation of indigenous trees in the project area. Unlike similar projects in the region, Gorongosa Coffee is the first to use a fully integrated approach: bringing together a network of human development interventions in health and education with a targeted effort of creating jobs and establishing alternative livelihoods for families on the mountain.
· Created as a community-based project, Gorongosa Coffee’s development has been community driven including: integrating local leaders in the planning process and day-to- day operations of the project;
· Hiring key members of the community with an affinity for conservation and consensus building;
· Coordinating with community organizations in natural resources management, education and health.
As a result, the project has proven resilient against the periodic onset of regional instability and extreme climatic events.
Gorongosa Coffee also offers small producers the option for expansion over time, focusing on developing emerging farmers through an array of agroforestry alternatives such as honey production and most importantly upskilling farmers with training that they can apply in any aspect of their livelihoods. This critical flexibility has promoted ownership of the project and adoption of conservation principals by the community.
Through the implementation of more sustainable agricultural practices, smallholder farmers are learning inter-row cropping and crop rotation methods, between each line of coffee trees. Inter-row cropping reduces the risk for farmers who have chosen to dedicate some of their land area to coffee cultivation. Improved crop rotation methods, cycling between maize and legumes, help to return nitrogen back into the soil after each season; reducing the need to find new lands to cultivate and curbing the use of slash and burn agricultural practices in the rainforest.
Gorongosa Coffee is based on the idea of an alliance between Gorongosa Project and the local community where 1,000 hectares would be developed under high quality shade grown Arabica coffee; which will translate into over 5,000 hectares of protected and restored rainforest and sustainable livelihoods for over 2,500 families; securing the 40,000 hectare portion of the national park.