The Alexandria-based Center for Advanced Applied Research (CAIA) has teamed up with the Tropical Agronomic Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE) to launch an ambitious project aimed at reducing the carbon footprint of coffee and vegetable farming in Costa Rica’s top coffee-producing regions. Known as “Project One,” this new sustainability initiative, which will be implemented in the towns of Dota, Tarrazú, and León Cortés, combines the use of organic fertilizers, strategic reforestation, and transportation fleet upgrades in an effort to minimize air, water, and soil pollution while maximizing crop yields.

“With increasing global demand for eco-friendly coffee production, effective climate solutions are essential. Although COOPEDOTA already holds Carbon Neutral Certification, Project One prioritizes active CO2 reduction, allowing the coffee producer to achieve Carbon Positive status – a first for any coffee producer worldwide,” said Monserrat Hernández, the assistant manager at the Dota agricultural cooperative.

The new locally-produced organic fertilizer, FertiDota, combines coffee wastewater with fish, phosphorus compounds, and coffee pulp to create a perfect blend of nutrients and macronutrients while eliminating chemical waste. Tomato plants fertilized with FertiDota in greenhouse trials reached full bloom in just 37 days compared to the typical 80 days.

“By combining coffee processing wastewater with circular economy practices, we can turn it into an organic fertilizer that stimulates fast, healthy plant growth,” CATIE’s commercial manager, Luis Diego Jiménez, explained.

Moreover, Project One’s reforestation program involves planting Trees of Life near coffee crops to capture carbon emissions. These trees can absorb up to 20 tons of CO2 over ten years when properly spaced in sunny areas. Introducing electric vehicles to the transportation fleet will also help reduce pollution.

Project One’s ultimate goal is to set a precedent for large-scale emission reduction and sustainable agriculture efforts throughout the tropical region. Initial trials show promising potential for minimizing environmental impact without sacrificing coffee quality or yield. The project also seeks to make Costa Rican coffee the world’s first Carbon Positive certified coffee.

Costa Rica’s reputation as an eco-responsible coffee leader stands to gain even more ground as Project One pushes ahead, with 18 months of investment and preparation from CAIA, CATIE, and COOPEDOTA. The project’s creative strategies for reforestation, natural fertilization optimization, and transport modernization may inspire a larger movement to support Carbon Positive coffee production for farmers worldwide.

Key Takeaways From Article
Travel Tips:

1. Visit the coffee-growing regions of Dota, Tarrazú, and León Cortés in Costa Rica to witness the ambitious sustainability initiative, Project One, in action. It is a great opportunity to see how organic fertilizers and reforestation are being used to reduce the carbon footprint of coffee farming.

2. Learn about Costa Rica’s renowned eco-conscious coffee industry and the efforts being made to achieve Carbon Positive status. This can be a fascinating insight into the country’s commitment to sustainable agriculture.

3. Explore the concept of circular economy and how it is being applied in the production of organic fertilizer. Costa Rica’s use of coffee wastewater combined with other organic materials to create FertiDota serves as an innovative example of waste transformation.

4. Consider the impact of transportation on carbon emissions while traveling in Costa Rica. With Project One upgrading its truck fleets to electric vehicles, it is a reminder to choose eco-friendly transportation options whenever possible.

5. Appreciate the importance of reforestation in carbon reduction efforts. The strategic planting of Trees of Life near coffee crops not only helps absorb carbon emissions but also adds to the natural beauty of the coffee-growing regions. Take the time to hike or explore these areas and witness the positive impact firsthand.

6. Stay updated on the progress of Project One and similar initiatives around the world. Supporting sustainable agriculture and reducing ecological impact is a global effort. Keeping informed and encouraging the implementation of such initiatives can contribute to a more eco-friendly future.


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