One stop Christmas shopping arrived this year in the form of a Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) email. I opened my mail this morning and lo and behold there was the perfect gift: a certificate in someone’s name for a reforestation effort of Costa Rica’s dwindling natural habitat.
I immediately donated for my entire family so they might participate from a distance in a worthy project. The money will go to NRDC’s partner group, Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE, pronounced CAT-EE-YA) and will go to reforest the area just to the north of us in the Turrialba region of Costa Rica.
Alan and once went to their headquarters looking for tropical hardwood saplings to plant on our property. We were very impressed with the place and their efforts to increase awareness of ecological effects of traditional slash and burn agriculture. Their stated mission is “to contribute to rural poverty reduction by promoting competitive and sustainable agriculture and natural resource management, through higher education, research and technical cooperation.” They do this by working with the following target groups:
*Small and medium-sized low-resource farmers including those living in extreme poverty, and those with minimum means to diversify and become competitive
*Rural communities and local organizations
*Business-oriented farmers and agroindustrial entrepreneurs generating rural employment
One of the things they have done in this regard is to develop a mold resistant variety of cacao and have taught the people of this area how to manage their crops without disturbing the indigenous plants of the region.
In the late 1970s a mildew blight, Moniliasis, hit the crops of this region virtually wiping out the income of the locals. Our black neighbors have always claimed the banana companies brought the mold blight, saying they did it to steal their land. My guess it was a hundred plus years of mono-cropping and the mildew took advantage. Whatever the case, the cacao has never been as strong or as plentiful as before.
CATIE now trains people and implements farming practices with small-scale producers in order to increase the profitability and competitiveness of their cacao plantations without losing the environmental functions of these diversified systems. A worthy cause for sure and my Christmas present to my family.
If you would like to donate to this project please use this link.The monkeys will love you forever!
If you’d like to give to a cause closer to home, follow this link to the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Web site.
Have a Merry Christmas and a greener New Year!