Tulane University researchers have been awarded a $2 million federal grant to make coffee production more sustainable. The researchers are studying coffee in Honduras, one of the top countries for coffee production. Since Honduras is one of the largest exporters of coffee globally, the process leads to significant damage to the environment, including deforestation and climate change.
The grant comes from the National Science Foundation. Caz Taylor, a professor in the Tulane Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, will lead the research project.
“The region we are working in has suffered severe water shortages due to run-off caused by the conversion of forested areas to coffee. Watershed modeling to understand this better will be a part of our project,” Taylor said.
GrantWatch has similar grants available to U.S. agricultural professionals in multiple states for research and education in sustainability.
Can Improving the Sustainability of Coffee Production Help Save the Planet?
The project will be going on in the Yoro coffee-producing region of northwest Honduras. The initiative will bring together conservation biologists, ecologists, agronomists, farmers, indigenous peoples, social scientists, land managers, and engineers. The group will co-design and implement a framework. Afterward, researchers will apply the design to coffee production, integrating technological innovations such as:
- Renewable-energy dryers.
- Clean wet mills that recycle coffee pulp. These reduce water pollution.
This framework will also allow for economic development incentives that compensate farmers for preserving forests on their lands. Specifically, these incentives will include micro-credit and training programs, with an emphasis on supporting female landowners and farmers.
Additionally, the team led by Taylor will be working on methods of studying engineering solutions to utilize renewable energy to process coffee. According to Taylor, generally, large industrial dryers fueled by wood deal with this process. This has caused a severe deforestation issue. By contrast, finding a way to utilize renewable energy could be more sustainable, and help with forest preservation.
“Our collaborators have designed a dryer that uses biofuel and solar and protects the forest. The dryer also provides some well-paid, skilled employment”, said, Taylor.
The full list of collaborators on this project include:
- Researchers from the University of Massachusetts
- The University of North Carolina
- Indiana University of Pennsylvania
- As well as the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Honduras
- The team also includes the Mesoamerican Development Institute
Are you looking for more grants for sustainability? Check out our complete category of grants for the environment over at GrantWatch. There are over 1000 grants in this category all aimed at helping preserve and conserve our planet. GrantWatch also has a category for research and evaluation.
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