The Adoption of Sustainable Management Practices by Mexican Coffee Producers

  •  Simone Ubertino    
  •  Patrick Mundler    
  •  Lota Tamini    


In order to maintain optimal growing conditions on coffee plots, producers in Mexico are encouraged to renovate their stock of coffee trees, use fertilizer, implement soil conservation measures and manage shade levels. The adoption of these sustainable management practices (SMPs) by smallholder coffee growers has become an important rural development objective, especially as a way to overcome low yields, poverty and land degradation. However, adoption rates for SMPs remain below expected levels, a situation that potentially threatens the long- term viability of the coffee sector in Mexico. To better understand the choices made by producers, a multivariate probit technique was used which modelled the adoption of possibly interrelated SMPs using data from a survey of 119 coffee producers. The analysis reveals that adoption of SMPs is related to the size of coffee holdings, the socio-economic characteristics of producers and the role of social capital, the latter being a key factor in the overall adoption process. Surprisingly, government subsidies to coffee growers were not tied to higher adoption rates, suggesting the need for policy reforms in order to better facilitate the uptake of new practices. The results indicate that efforts aimed at strengthening local institutions and organizing coffee growers into producer associations could increase the adoption of SMPs in smallholder coffee systems.

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