FROM THIS POORLY MANAGED 36 HA
MONOCULTURE COFFEE PLANTATION…
THE COFFEE YOU ARE DRINKING IS REGENERATING FOREST AND BIODIVERSITY IN LAOS
Through a new partnership with the coffee company Slow, Maersk has embarked on a journey, where Slow has acquired a 36 hectares coffee plantation in Laos to supply Maersk with coffee.
The exciting part is that Slow will convert this plantation from a conventionally grown monoculture with a few sporadic small trees into a thriving and diverse agroforest with up to 450 trees per hectare. The long term result of you drinking Slow coffee is a reversal of the loss of nature in this coffee plantation.
… TO SOMETHING LIKE MR. JON’S THRIVING COFFEE FOREST
January 2023 update:
Another successful conclusion of the harvest season for the Lakkhao Farm!
The sound of the final coffee cherries being plucked from the trees echoes through the farm as the harvest season comes to an end. A whopping 105.468kg of cherries is then processed into 16.575kg of coffee parchment. The beans are now at the dry mill and being processed into green beans.
Meanwhile, the farm workers have turned their attention to the coffee plants, meticulously weeding and pruning to prepare them for this year’s blossoming. The blooming of white flowers marks the beginning of a year-long journey. This is a crucial time for the plants since this will determine the potential productivity for the year.
Aside from the farm management, we are also preparing for the next tree planting. We aim to start the planting earlier this year in time for the rainy season.
More exciting news is coming, and we can't wait to give you an update!
December 2022 update:
From the start of the picking season in October until mid-November 2022, 47.408 kg of fully-ripe coffee cherries have been harvested on the Lakkhao Farm!
Picking coffee cherries is the most time-consuming part of the coffee production process. The team of workers living on the farm join forces with seasonal workers from nearby villages, carefully selecting the ripe cherries without disrupting the maturing process of the other cherries. Once the harvest season is completed in the middle of December, we expect to have picked around 110.000 kg of coffee cherries from the farm.
While the farm workers are busy picking cherries, their children attend the preliminary farm school, enjoying healthy lunches and snacks. Recently, a “farm kindergarten” has also been established, to give the smaller children coming with their parents for the workday, a chance to enjoy learning, singing and dancing.
Further progress on infrastructure has also been made on the farm these last months: Improvements have been made to the current worker house to provide more space for the seasonal workers who’ve decided to stay on the farm during the picking season. New bathrooms and washing areas were also constructed for them to use.
Stay tuned for more progress updates!
August 2022 update:
The rainy season has begun in Laos, which is the perfect time for tree planting on the Lakkhao farm.
At the beginning of the summer, we started by planting trees representing 14 different species. Our target is to plant 6,000 seedlings before the first week of August.
Unique endangered varieties in this region are among the native tree species being planted. The fruit-bearing trees chosen for the project include jackfruit, papaya, pomelo, avocado, and rambutan.
The embedded seedlings are supported by stakes and protected by bamboo guards, but ultimately, their survival will depend on the weather. Typically, 5-10% of the young trees will not mature.
The farm workers will continue to manage the seedlings. Over the next month, they will manually remove weeds around the trees to ensure their growth.
Growing forests helps increase the area's biodiversity and improves the soil quality on the farm. Trees also help protect coffee plants from extreme weather conditions.
The farm workers are also planting young coffee plants that will replace dead plants and replenish some areas with fewer plants. By mid-September, they will have planted around 50,000 coffee plants!
Watch out for more exciting updates on the Lakkhao farm!
April 2022 update:
During the last months, the main focus of the workers on the Lakkhao farm has been shade looping and removal of vines. The existing, mainly single species trees on the farm were preventing enough sunlight from reaching the coffee plants. The farmworkers has thinned out the tree cover by carefully pruning the lateral branches and also removing layers of vines that were covering and damaging the coffee plants.
The infrastructure on the farm has also been given a boost:
The team has erected new fencing around the farm, in order to protect the coffee plants from cattle and goats.
In addition, the workers' house and the farmer staff house have both been thoroughly repaired and repainted. New features added to the workers' house include a common kitchen, washrooms, and toilets. These improvements will enable up to four families to live on the farm.
Keep watching this space for the progress of our regenerative coffee project!
February 2022 update:
The Slow team in Laos is currently working on renovating the on-site housing so that the new farm staff can move in during the spring season.
Slow has acquired the plantation and is hiring staff to manage it on all levels, including planting the many trees.
This means that a radically different level of transparency is possible in that Slow can ensure that farm work is happening according to fair working standards. In the coffee industry, there can be up to 15 intermediaries in the value chain, making it very difficult to know how farmer conditions are.
All Slows plantation workers are getting paid fairly and have good working conditions like sick leave, insurance, paid nursery for kids etc.
Stay tuned, and learn more as the work on the plantation progresses!
An agroforest is a planted or natural forest with agriculture embedded. A coffee agroforest is one in which coffee plants are grown.
By planting trees and bushes alongside existing coffee plants, the planted forest will, over time, closely mimic a natural forest that will attract and host a variety of insects and wildlife. This environment is far more generative than the existing coffee monocultures and excellent for producing quality coffee, as it resembles the original conditions under which coffee naturally grew.
In the 36-hectare plantation that Slow is converting to an agroforest for Maersk, we will plant up to 450 trees per hectare, of 20 different varietals, mainly native, ten of which will be fruit trees, serving to attract birds and insects further.
In 10 years, Slow aims to get this farm certified Bird-Friendly by the Smithsonian Institute, the highest possible certification for biodiversity and preservation.
“Humanity is waging war on nature. This is suicidal. Making peace with nature is the defining task of the 21st century. It must be the top, top priority of everyone, everywhere.“
UN Secretary General Antonio Gutteres, December 2020
Slow is in the business of nature-positive coffee. The term refers to halting and reversing the loss of nature by 2030, a Global Goal for Nature laid out by prominent scientists and leaders like Johan Rockström, Paul Polman and Peter Bakker.
In practice, it means that Slow works towards:
> Capturing more carbon in our coffee forests than is emitted in the rest of our production. This carbon capture occurs naturally in agroforests without buying carbon credits or offsets.
> Bringing back more biodiversity in our coffee forests by growing and preserving native plants and trees that work to attract and host insects and wildlife.
> Ensuring that local ecosystems are cleaner and healthier through natural processing and no harmful practices.
> Helping more people out of poverty by paying them a living income that is sustainable, fair and equitable. We also support and work closely with local towns to ensure thriving communities.