Environmental and economic effects

Biology
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Discuss the environmental and economic effects of the cultivation coffee, chocolate, or tea. Give a lengthy response. Not one or 2 sentences

Jul 6th, 2015

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The economic effects of their cultivation are enlisted below:

Coffee: Coffee is the world's second most valuable traded commodity, behind only petroleum. There are approximately 25 million farmers and coffee workers in over 50 countries involved in producing coffee around the world. Coffee was traditionally developed as a colonial cash crop, planted by serfs or wage laborers in tropical climates on large plantations of landowners for sale in colonial countries. Coffee producers, like most agricultural workers around the world, are kept in a cycle of poverty and debt by the current global economy designed to exploit cheap labor and keep consumer prices low. An estimated 11 million hectares of the world's farmland are dedicated to coffee cultivation. 

Tea:

Tea is the most popular and cheapest beverage, next to water, in the world. It is consumed by a range of age groups in all levels of society. Some three billion cups of tea are consumed daily worldwide. However, 50-60% of the production cost is in the labor cost. The tea industry makes a vital contribution to the economy of the producing countries. The countries that produce tea are largely developing countries with large pools of low-cost labor. Tea is considered to be a part of the huge beverage market, not in isolation.

Choclate (Cocoa) : Cocoa is traded on the world market as a global commodity. Its price can fluctuate daily, depending on—and affecting—supply and demand around the world. Supply and demand depends on many factors. For example, too many beans on the world market can cause prices to drop, leaving farmers without the cash needed to cultivate their crops, which ultimately lessens supply. Adverse weather or tree disease can shrink supply as well.Shade cacao farmers make more money than they would by growing cacao alone, because they gain additional income from the shade tree crops. These crops also provide a backup source of income should the cacao crop fail or world prices drop. In addition, this system eliminates the need for the farmer to clear more land, saving the rainforest and enabling the farmer to reap diverse harvests from the same land for years to come.


Environmental Impact:

Agricultural use of some rainforest land proves to be a failure because of the nutrient-deficient, acidic soils of these forests. Nevertheless, many commercial agricultural projects are still carried out on rainforest lands, although many of these revert to cattle pasture after soils are depleted. Some floodplain regions, like those of the lower Amazon (várzea), are more suitable for commercial agriculture because annual floods replenish nutrient stores.

Generally forest clearers use slash-and-burn techniques to clear land, but on a much larger scale than traditional practices. Instead of burning a mere 2-10 acres (1-4 ha), agriculturalists burn hundreds to thousands of hectares after felling a tract of forest and leaving it to dry. Burning releases nutrients locked up in vegetation and produces a layer of nutrient-rich material above the otherwise poor soil. The cleared area is quickly planted and supports vigorous growth for a few years, after which the nutrient stock is depleted and large amounts of fertilizer are required to keep the operation viable. Fertilizer may be washed into local streams, affecting fish and aquatic life. When the use of fertilizer is deemed no longer efficient, the land is abandoned and allowed to revert to scrub. Drought-resistant grasses may move in or cattle ranchers may plant imported African grasses for cattle grazing. The land is now only marginally productive and a limited number of cattle can subsist in the area. 

Cocoa farming also contributes to rainforest and old growth forest deforestation.By clearing land in these forests, farmers decrease the interactions between the organisms that naturally live in this area. Many wildlife habitats are destroyed and the plant species diversity is drastically reduced. nutrients begin to leach out of the soil. due to poor irrigation and inadequate soil protection, which can increase the erosion of the soil. The more intense the farming practices are, the more damaging they are to the ecosystem. Cocoa farming becomes a destructive circle as farmers wear out the soils and cut further into the forest to obtain fresh land. All of these processes stress the Cacao trees and result in lower yields, giving the opposite effect to what the farmers expect from these practices.However,with a shortage of fresh land to plant Cacao trees, some farmers are beginning to illegally cut down parts of these protected forests. It has been estimated that approximately 50% of these protected forests have been cut down.


References:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_effects_of_cocoa_production

http://www.thestoryofchocolate.com/Who/content.cfm?ItemNumber=3450



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Jul 6th, 2015

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