Peruvian Organic Coffee and the "Guano" Link

By Timothy S. Collins

Despite the huge challenge that El Nino and La Nina represent to coffee farmers, Peruvian coffee has gained worldwide recognition in the Organic Coffee category in particular. Peru is, in fact, the first organic coffee producer in the world. How did they accomplish this? The lands where coffee grows have not been treated with chemical fertilizers or similar products but primarily with "guano."

What is "guano"? This is a word derived from the Quechua "wanu." It is useful and beneficial excrement from millions of seabirds, bats and seals used primarily as a farming fertilizer.

  • This excrement lacks odor and it is very rich in nitrogen and phosphorous. Soil that is deficient in organic matter can be made very productive and fertile through the addition of "guano."
  • "Guano" provides important chemicals for crops. It also has beneficial fungi and bacteria to protect plants from disease.
  • The tradition of using "guano" as crop fertilizer goes back to before the arrival of the Conquistadores in Peru.
  • Indians and later on their descendants (farmers) collected the white piles of "guano" (in Quechua, "wanu") from shorelines and islands. This has been an organic farming tradition in Peru for hundreds of years.
  • The Incas collected "guano" from the coastlines as a soil enricher and placed a very high value on it. In fact, they punished severely anyone disturbing the birds and restricted access to the areas.
  • Unfortunately for Peru, El Nino and La Nina weather fluctuations have also had a negative impact on the total number of seabirds, bats and seals depositing "guano" along the seashore and islands off the Peruvian coast.
  • As a result, some farmers are using synthetic fertilizers which could pose a threat to Peru's Organic Coffee recognition. With the increased interest in and growth of the organic foods market, fortunately, the trend towards synthetic fertilizers is controlled.

However, the question is: how long will the supply of "guano" be available and for what type of use since so many different industries now want it? All eyes, literally, are on the skies, shorelines and islands evaluating the bird population count, health and migration patterns. "Guano" deposits help sustain a wide variety of species, both in bat caves and on the shorelines.

The future looks bright for Peru to continue developing its well known and profitable Organic coffee cultivation through the use of environmentally sound shade grown coffee and non-chemical fertilizers including, as available, the use of "guano."

Ready to enjoy a cup of Peruvian Shade Grown Organic?

Timothy S. Collins
Article by Timothy S. Collins
Timothy ("Tim") S. Collins, the author, is called by those who know him "The Gourmet Coffee Guy." He is an expert in article writing who has done extensive research online and offline in his area of expertise, coffee marketing, as well as in other areas of personal and professional interest. Come visit the author's website:

© Copyright - Timothy S. Collins. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

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