Blog 8: The Life of A Tico Farmer

Our visit to Life (Low Impact for Earth) Monteverde today was a very eye opening experience into the life of a Tico Farmer. The farm at Life Monteverde produces mostly coffee, however they also have land allotted for animals and vegetables. The 42-acre farm was founded in 1989 with a focus on sustainable agriculture in the region. With the rise of ecotourism in the region, the farm began running educational programs in 2008. Our tour of the farm allowed us to speak with the farmers there and further understand the way coffee is produced from bean to bag.

Tico farmers, including those at Life Monteverde face several challenges in their day to day lives farming in the rainforest. One of the biggest challenges, especially in Monteverde, is the unpredictable weather conditions. The high altitude and humidity makes for perfect climate to grow coffee in, and the Ticos take advantage of this unique climate. Overall, the climate is relatively predictable, with only 2 seasons and hardly any deviation in temperature. However, the effects of climate change has made the weather much less predictable. This creates a big challenge for coffee farmers who rely on these stable conditions because the coffee and other crops need them to thrive. In order to combat the effects of climate change, farmers have been working on creating plants that are more resistant to the flu temperatures. For example, temperatures in Monteverde used to be cold enough where a fungus, known as coffee rust, was unable to grow. Due to the rising temperatures around the world, coffee rust is now effecting the coffee plants on the Life Monteverde farm, and the farmers are addressing this problem by testing several different rust resistant plants. In general, diseases, fungus, and pests create a lot of problems for farmers growing any crops around the world. There are many simple ways to solve these problems, such as pesticides and herbicides, but a greater challenge comes with regards to sustainability. In the rainforest especially, it is important for Tico farmers to attempt to solve these issues while also preserving the fragile environment. Another challenge Tico farmers face is a relatively low income. These farmers often work from sunrise to sunset seven days a week, but earn far less than other occupations that require less labor. Also, the changing market prices make for an insecure income, which can be difficult when trying to support a family or a business. In conclusion, Tico farmers face a lot of challenges in a difficult climate with little financial reward, so they must have a strong passion for their living

Despite these challenges, Tico farmers take a lot of pride in their work and are mostly happy with their occupation. While discussing this with the farmers at Life Monteverde, they consistently mentioned being happy with making a positive impact on society each day. Everyone needs to eat every day, so the work that they are doing is making a positive impact in society every day, and the farmers are very happy and proud of that fact. Another example of something that makes Tico farmers happy is the continuation of a family business. Ticos are very proud of their families, and farming is a business that can stay within the family and reinforce family values. This is something for Tico farmers to be proud of, as they watch their farms evolve as they are passed down the generations. Lastly, the farmers at Life Monteverde mentioned how working with nature and farming in a very sustainable fashion made them very happy that they were helping preserve this beautiful rainforest. Sustainable farming is becoming very popular amongst Tico farmers, as they are learning the importance of preserving the land. In conclusion, these reasons outweigh the challenges that farmers face on a day to day basis.

These farmers have refined their practices a lot over the many years they have been here, though there are some things I would improve about farming in the rainforests of Costa Rica. Mainly, I would push for cooperation of competition in regions like Monteverde, where there is little room in the production of coffee for a competition. All of the farms working together to export coffee provides much higher yields, and a Co-op like this exist, but disbanded due to differences with handling ecotourism. In my opinion, coffee production in this region would be much more efficient if farmers were better coordinated and could learn from one another. My experience today at Life Monteverde was very eye opening with regards to climate change and the life of farmers in Costa Rica.

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