|Nelson Gamero talks to coffee farmers about micro-organisms.
UMF has been testing different ways to treat coffee pulp and turn it into organic fertilizer. Treating coffee pulp – the fruit that encases the bean and that is removed during processing – is an important way to reduce environmental impact in processing coffee. Untreated, this pulp is extremely contaminating to the environment. One kilogram (2.2 pounds) of untreated coffee pulp contains contaminants equal to a day’s worth of human excrement. The water used in processing must also be treated: 1 liter of untreated processing water contains contaminants equal to 15 liters of urine. If all of the coffee pulp in Honduras were left untreated, it would be as if a 2.6-million person city had no form of waste treatment.
Coffee pulp and processing water can be recycled as fertilizer, but they must be treated first in order to keep from acidifying the soil, producing odor, and contaminating groundwater. Here are where micro-organisms come in. There are different ways to break down coffee pulp into fertilizer, which we outlined in a previous blog post. The least-expensive option, while it takes some work and time, can be done with local materials: home-made organic product composed of locally-grown micro-organisms.
|Farmers prepare micro-organisms to treat coffee pulp.
UMF will work with farmers in its microloan and training program to build on this training session during the coming harvest. We will be distributing micro-organisms, teaching how to properly use them to treat coffee pulp and wastewater, and working with farmers to implement this technology to decrease environmental impact of coffee processing in La Unión.