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OFFSETS THE CO² EMISSIONS OF ITS VEHICLES WITH COFFEE FEET!

SMILE CR operates in the transportation of biological materials in the Costa Rican territory.

Passing on our know-how in the highly specialized the very specialized transport of biological samples and to professionalize the profession are the main objectives of the directors of SMILE CR. "But to put on the roads of Costa Rica, 6 vehicles traveling daily almost 1,600 kms goes against the aspirations of COSTA RICA to become a modern, green, emission-free, resilient and inclusive economy" explains Muriel LAHONTA, President of SMILE CR.

"We could not arrive in this splendid country, so invested in the preservation of its wealth and in the safeguarding of the world's ecosystems, without providing a first solution.

This solution was, after calculating the amount of CO² in tons emitted by SMILE CR's vehicles, to calculate the amount in Colones to compensate. "Having met several times with the new generation of coffee growers on their farms, they explained to us their deep desire to see their agricultural sector being able to participate in the preservation of the environment, while developing organic ranges of very high quality and even more authentic and natural flavors, while preserving the health of the coffee growers, their families and their consumer customers. In addition, organic coffee is sold for about 25% to 40% more than what the world price of raw materials would offer them. This allows the producers to earn a higher income and therefore to live decently, to develop and to maintain the tradition of hand picking".

The leaders of SMILE CR have decided to help a family of the Province of ACOSTA, the ARIAS family* by buying 1,350 feet of coffee, a quantity equivalent to the amount of compensation needed.

Mauricio ARIAS, with all his expertise, chose to invest in the variety "Costa Rica 95" recognizable by its dark red shoots, much more robust and resistant to diseases such as Rust. This new plantation will require almost no chemical treatment. The first harvest will take place in 2 years. A true natural bridge between the north and south of the American continent, Costa Rica alone contains 5% of the world's terrestrial biodiversity and 3.5% of marine life.

Costa Rica produces nearly 93% of its electricity from renewable energy and 30% of its territory is protected. In 1948, its government decided to abolish the army and to devote the budgets thus freed to education, health and environmental protection.

This last point is essential: Costa Rica, with more than 30% of its territory protected, is committed to becoming CO2 neutral before 2022. This concern for the planet also affects the agricultural sector.

One Costa Rican in seven lives off the land, growing pineapples, bananas, sugar cane, cocoa and coffee*.

But in 2015, nearly 10% of Costa Rica's greenhouse gas emissions were attributed to coffee production, an industry integral to the national identity and economy of Costa Rica. The method of cultivation is the key factor for climate protection.

85% of greenhouse gas emissions from conventional coffee came from clearing tropical forests (to make room for crops) and agricultural inputs (chemical fertilizers like urea, pesticides, irrigation).

To a large extent, this also applies to organic coffee, when, as in Brazil, rainforests have had to make way for plantations.

The use of synthetic fertilizers to supply the soil with the necessary nitrogen also stimulates a reaction that emits nitrous oxide (N2O) into the atmosphere.

Solutions include training and encouraging growers to use new fertilization methods that improve efficiency, thereby reducing the amount of fertilizer needed.

Interplanting nitrogen-fixing trees between coffee trees or growing coffee in forested areas as has been practiced for decades in Acosta Province**.

Shade the coffee trees to reduce the need for water, and improve the soil.

*46,000 coffee growers (exclusively Arabica), the vast majority of which are very small farms, 90% of which cover less than four hectares. These plots of land are passed down from generation to generation and are often farmed by farmers whose only knowledge of agronomy was provided by the fertilizer and pesticide salesmen of the big agrochemical companies. But the new generation is learning to adapt sustainable practices. In addition, coffee from sustainable crops has superior quality and taste properties compared to coffee from so-called conventional agriculture.

The coffee farmers have also realized the unexpected effects of their transition to sustainable agriculture: the return of biodiversity to their fields, less soil erosion and higher production per hectare. As the land becomes more wooded, it also helps in the fight against global warming since the humidity and shade allow for better thermal regulation.

**COFFEE GROWERS IN THE ACOSTA REGION Acosta is the 12th canton of the province of San José in Costa Rica with 5 districts. It is located 30 km south of the city of San José. With an area of 342.24 km², Acosta is the fourth canton of the province of San José and the 39th of all the cantons of Costa Rica.

Founded on October 27, 1910, its capital - San Ignacio de Acosta - has about 20,200 inhabitants.

The canton has a high literacy rate (99.1%), and in 2012 had a human development index of 0.777 according to the United Nations Program (Quality of life: per capita income - life expectancy - education level).

It is the most rugged canton in the country in terms of topography, with a predominantly mountainous and eminently agricultural landscape: agriculture remains the activity that generates the most income and provides the most work for a high percentage of its inhabitants.

Coffee growing is the main agricultural activity and the main source of income. Other important economic activities are cattle fattening, beekeeping and the cultivation of vegetables, itabo flowers, beans and citrus fruits. What does Costa Rican legislation say?

The "Intersectoral Agreement for the Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the Transport Sector" was signed on February 24, 2019 as part of the presentation of the Decarbonization Plan by the Ministry of Public Works and Transport (MOPT) and the Ministry of Environment and Energy (MINAE).

This agreement aims to define the main lines of action for reducing emissions in the transport sector, a sector that emits 44% of the country's emissions, in order to move effectively towards decarbonization.

The sectoral agreement involves the implementation of policies, measures and other instruments through which the transport sector would achieve a reduction of the equivalent of 0.5 megatons of carbon dioxide (CO2) by 2024, compared to 2012 emissions, as well as improve the transport system and the quality of life of the population.

The measures included in the agreement at the transportation level are classified into 4 main groups:

  1. Non-motorized mobility and low-speed electric assisted mobility

  2. Public transport,

  3. Freight transport,

  4. Private transport.

The agreement will be updated every 5 years, ensuring that in each of these updates the ambition is increased, or at least maintained.

In addition, it is the result of a joint work process between the MOPT and MINAE, accompanied by the ICE Group and the German Development Cooperation GIZ, in the framework of the My Transport and Climate Action II project. To reach its final version, the agreement was subjected to a dialogue process between the two ministries of about seven months, which included discussions with international experts and two phases of consultation with civil society, academia, and other stakeholders of the ministries involved.

THE ARIAS FAMILY

"My name is Mauricio Arias and I'm going to tell you a little bit about my background in the coffee culture. I am a resident of Ceiba Est - Acosta San Jose. My family has been in the coffee industry since the 1930s. I am very proud to be a coffee producer and entrepreneur. Costa Rica was the first country in Central America to be recognized as the best country for growing coffee. The first plantations date back to 1921 and these "golden beans" helped the country's economy to take off.

My grandfather was born Arias Castro, in the 40's; his 7 brothers all worked in agriculture: coffee, corn and beans. Then my father, born in the 60's, very young, became independent by buying his own properties with the support of his father, my grandfather.

Then it was my turn. From a very young age, I had dreams: to study, to live in the United States and, most of all, to work in the coffee plantations.

So I left for the United States in 1997. I lived there for 21 years. I studied cooking and gardening, which were my first two careers. I even had my own company specialized in garden design for 10 years.

During this period, I came back to Costa Rica 3 times and my father had each time, developed the coffee culture with more and more properties. Then, I decided to send him money to buy me properties that he was managing. Then, once back in the country in 2018, I took back the land that my father had acquired with my resources, then I bought him a property in a high area - at 1,650m of altitude, and where the famous hut is! This property is almost 4 hectares.

Today, we cultivate about 8 hectares of coffee and we have 3, 4 employees daily throughout the year. For the harvest period, which runs from December to March, we employ 20 to 25 people. It is essential for us to continue the tradition of hand picking, which is more respectful of the plant and allows families to live. The yield is about 300 bushels on the 8 hectares, which is very good.

During 9 months, we dedicate ourselves only to the maintenance, by using when it is necessary fertilizers and sometimes chemicals to fight against the parasites. We only sell to one company, Vol Café; we really think that more buyers would be beneficial for our crops and for the environment. If we sell for more money we can invest in more robust plants that are resistant to disease and pests and therefore use less chemical pollutants.

This year we planted about 3,000 shrubs, of which 1,320 were funded by SMILE CR. It is a large area with a new type of coffee (Costa Rica 95) from the province of Turrialba. It is a much more resistant coffee that does not require as many chemicals. The help of SMILE CR is very important; we are very proud to have realized this project and we are very grateful to SMILE CR to allow us, thanks to their compensation, to accompany us in our approach to produce in a more Responsible way...


SMILE CR – subsidiary Compagny of SMILE SAS


In a few figures

  • 5 Drivers,

  • 1 Administrative,

  • 6 vehicles,

  • 9,600 kms travelled per week,

  • 10 cities collected every day,

  • 26 sites collected daily.

But also

  • Operating permits from the Ministry of Health,

  • Training of the drivers to the regulations,

  • Physical traceability from collection to delivery,

  • Thermal traceability in real time.



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