Quality Coffee Evolution

The current period, which began in the 1960’s, is characterized by the development of new varieties resistant to the coffee leaf rust disease and constant efforts to boost crop productivity.

Traditional coffee plantations –characterized by long productive cycles, low planting densities, tall varieties, use of shading trees, and low productivity–, were replaced by technologically advanced coffee plantations. These innovative plantations are known for their higher plant density, use of crop paths (trazos), short varieties resistant to coffee rust, lower levels of shade and increased productivity.

The following are additional changes that took place in the Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia (PCC) between 1970 and 1993-97: 

  • Changes in the coffee grown area: although the coffee grown area practically remained unchanged in the departments of Caldas and Risaralda, it experienced important transformations in the departments of Quindío and Valle with reductions oscillating between 20% and 30%.
  • Changes in the distribution of area planted with traditional and technologically advanced coffee: the percentage of technologically grown coffee in the four departments that comprise the PCC increased from 5% in 1970 to 80% in 1997.
  • Changes in the number and size of coffee growing farms: while the number of farms increased after the agricultural productive units were fractioned –particularly in the department of Caldas with an increase of 90%–, their size reduced significantly.
  • Vegetation changes: the most notorious vegetation changes were the percentage reduction of pasture and the increase of other crops, forests and shrubs. As suggested by Guhl (2004), these transformations imply that as the landscape undergoes a process of agricultural intensification, it is increasingly becoming heterogeneous.


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