Industries in Depth

This farmer is saving the jungle by growing food in it

A Costa Rican coffee picker carries freshly harvested coffee beans at a plantation dedicated to export quality coffee.  A worker carries freshly harvested coffee beans at a plantation in Carrizal de Alajuela, northeast of the capital San Jose, on January 13, 2004. Costa Rican coffee producers are concentrating on producing premium quality coffee for export in order to reposition their product in the international market where it sells for $40 per sack more than normal Arabic coffee. Picture taken January 13, 2004. NO RIGHTS CLEARANCES OR PERMISSIONS ARE REQUIRED FOR THIS IMAGE. REUTERS/Juan Carlos Ulate - RP5DRIESEJAA

Alexander Retana grows around 22 different crops, in the heart of the Costa Rican rainforest. Image: REUTERS/Juan Carlos Ulate

Joe Myers
Writer, Forum Agenda
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Agriculture, Food and Beverage

“My dream is to create a sustainable farm, this is my work.”

Alexander Retana is a farmer with a different kind of farm. His – where he grows around 22 different crops from bananas to cacao – is right among the trees of the Costa Rican rainforest.

It’s a big change from just a few years ago, when the area was just open rice fields. Initially, Retana grew trees for shade from the heat of the sun. But things soon expanded as he planted more trees, until he’d built a whole new ecosystem above his head.

The approach, known as agroforestry, brings together traditional agriculture and the cultivation of trees - allowing crops and forest to grow alongside each other.

The canopy of trees doesn’t just provide shade for the farmer, though. “The trees help other plants to survive better in the farm,” he explains. Restoring the jungle increases precipitation and helps retain more moisture in the soil, while wildlife help control pests.

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“We need to have crops and trees living together in the ecosystem,” Retana believes. “Agroforestry can exist everywhere in the tropical ecosystem around the world. This is one of the solutions to save the forest.”

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Read more about the inspiring pioneers finding creative solutions to the climate crisis here: https://wef.ch/pioneersforourplanet

About the series: Each week we’ll bring you a new video story about the people striving to restore nature and fighting climate change. In collaboration with @WWF and the team behind the Netflix documentary #OurPlanet. #ShareOurPlanet

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Want to raise your #VoiceForThePlanet? Life on Earth is under threat, but you can help. People around the world are raising their voice in support of urgent action. Add yours now at www.voicefortheplanet.org

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Related topics:
Industries in DepthFood and WaterSustainable Development
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