Somsak Sriphumthong is on a caffeine-fueled mission.
After years living and working abroad, the organic farmer and community leader returned to his native Thailand several years ago — during a time when the forests were being cleared for opium fields and rice plantations.
Seeking a sustainable alternative, he started growing and selling organic coffee beans on reclaimed land. Why coffee? Sriphumthong says he “didn’t want to take advantage of society … or harm people” while earning a living.
As he explains in the video, coffee plants can coexist with the forest — reducing local pressure to contribute to global deforestation — and provide a steady stream of income for poor communities. And as an added bonus, the plant cover the coffee plants and remaining forest provide helps reduce downstream flooding during the rainy season.
To grow the coffee organically, Sriphumthong employs an intricate system of natural pest control.
He’s now working with other communities in Chiang Mai province to expand organic coffee growing and raise awareness of the importance of protecting the forest.
Hong Kong-based filmmaker, editor and video journalist Ivan Abreu filmed and produced this original video for Ensia magazine and was republished with permission. View Ivan Abreu’s other work on Vimeo and Instagram.
Did you find this article useful? Help us keep our journalism free to read.
We have a team of journalists dedicated to providing independent, well-researched stories from around the region on the topics that matter to you. Consider supporting our brand of purposeful journalism with a donation and keep Eco-Business free for all to read. Thank you.