Ipanema Coffees´ Rio Verde Farm: example of harmony between agricultural production and natural resources protection

Ipanema Coffees´ Rio Verde Farm is an example of harmony between agricultural production and natural resources protection

São Paulo, January, 2018 – With 793 hectares dedicated to coffee production and 773 hectares of native forests, 66 springs and 27.7-mile water bodies – an authentic natural sanctuary located in the mountains of Mantiqueira ridge, in Conceição do Rio Verde, state of Minas Gerais, Rio Verde Farm has found the right recipe to produce the best high score specialty coffees in perfect harmony with the environmental preservation. To take care of this true preciosity from nature and continuously improve their production, Ipanema Coffees installed the Environmental Monitoring Center (EMC), conceived as a center of management, analysis and monitoring of factors related to water, soil, vegetation, climate and residue. Today the projects under way are divided in two strong courses of action: Research on the Production System, highlighting the innovative Coffee Garden, and the strategic Water Factory Program.

The excellence of the high score specialty coffees produced by Rio Verde Farm is a concrete example of the countless benefits generated by Ipanema’s investments in the farm conservation areas. Forests potentialize carbon sequestration and contribute to proper temperature and rainfall amounts that ensure the replacement of water reserves, among other positive results. The Acaiá, yellow Bourbon and yellow Catuaí varieties are planted in altitudes 1.000 meters above sea level and the region mild temperatures allow a slow maturation of the beans. “We created a state of the art farm, dedicated to produce the best high score coffees, taking advantage of the unique characteristics of Rio Verde Farm and of Mantiqueira Mountains”, says Washington Rodrigues, Ipanema Coffees’ CEO.

The Serra da Mantiqueira mountain ridge region is part of the Mata Atlântica biome, one of the planet’s richest ecosystems, with several species of flora and fauna that only exist in the region. Significant variations of landscapes and altitudes cause different climate conditions, which, together with fertile soils, favor the adaptation of different plants and animals. With the aim of protecting this valuable natural patrimony, and taking care of the farm complex nature, that Ipanema invests in the EMC. Driven by the environmental preservation and the agricultural production improvement, the Environmental Monitoring Center works today on eight projects in the fields of Research on the Production System and the Water Factory Program.

EMC is placed in a former henhouse, previously used for raising laying hens, an activity maintained during several decades on Rio Verde farm to produce organic fertilizer. When Ipanema completely restored and adapted the old henhouse, they put into practice the 3 Rs concept: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. All the building renovation project was developed to make the conscious use of resources viable. The polycarbonate roof helps to keep the temperature and provides light, ideal conditions for the development of seeds and seedlings.

The rainwater collected in gutters and stored in a 264.17 (US) gallon tank is used to water bigger seedlings in the hardening off phase – adaptation to solar radiation oscillations – in an open area next to the shed, before transplanting. For small seedlings that stay on tables, an irrigation system with clean water is used by sections. The water surplus collected from the tables is also reused: it flows to a drainage system on the floor and follows to a tank used to water larger seedlings.

Coffee Garden
One of the main EMC research projects related to production, technology and innovation is the Coffee Garden, an experimental area with 1.98 hectare at an altitude of 1.093 meters above sea level, where 10,000 coffee trees of 48 different varieties are planted and being specifically tested for Rio Verde Farm environment. The main goal is to evaluate the potential cupping quality, productivity and the economic feasibility of each coffee variety at Rio Verde conditions.

In addition to the Coffee Garden, the production area projects cover all the aspects linked to technology and innovation, associated to new cultures, such as macadamia and hardwoods, such as African mahogany and Australian cedar, and to honey production, which helps native forest tree pollination. “Macadamia, for instance, requires little agrochemical products and can be planted at smaller altitudes which are not conducive for coffee cultivation,” explains the agricultural engineer Antonio Carlos Michelotto, Ipanema Coffees Technical Director. Besides, its annual harvesting takes place before the coffee harvesting, which ensures workers are kept busy when there is no demand for coffee. According to Michelotto, the company chose cultures of low environmental impact that can, at the same time, bring financial returns.

Water Factory
The annual average precipitation on Rio Verde Farm is 1,550 millimeters, with concentration between October and March. This means a volume of 15,500 cubic meters per hectare or 24,273,000 cubic meters of water (equivalent to 9,709 Olympic pools per year), that are collected and taken to natural reservoirs.

Rio Verde Farm has a mountain relief that transforms it into a natural collector of rainwaters. Its 27.7-mile water bodies and 66 springs disperse through a 773 hectares reserve to form a natural water factory. These conditions made Ipanema Coffees create the Water Factory Program aiming the protection of springs and forests, including planting and monitoring of 32 different native species. The program is divided into four projects: reservoir use, native seed technology, native tree seedling production, and enrichment of forest conservation areas with native species. The Water Factory goal is to ensure quality and increase the volume of water produced to feed the farm hydrographic chain. Part of this water is stored in a 200 million-liter (52,800,00 US gallon) reservoir for use in coffee processing after harvesting, and for the drip irrigation of coffee plantations.

The program also produces seedlings of native species for spring area revegetation. Besides, Ipanema Coffees’ technical team follows up Rio Verde’ basins with the aim of checking changes in water quantity and quality over time, identifying and monitoring the efficiency of the forests in water production.

The agricultural and environmental protection activities, enframed by Rio Verde landscape, can be observed by the visitors when they hike through the farm observation trails. Walking through these trails with privileged views, it is possible to observe revegetation sites and a waterfall, have a general view of the farm and realize the importance of the investments continuously made in preservation.

Licensing and certifications
Ipanema Coffees has environmental licenses awarded by governmental organizations that verify the enforcement of environmental laws, and the adoption of good agricultural practices. In addition to the Brazilian environmental legislation, Ipanema Coffees has several certifications obtained after rigorous audits performed by independent companies with the aim of ensuring that products and practices strictly follow international standards. The Company has three certifications and participates in two quality programs. In 2002 Ipanema was the first Brazilian company UTZ Certified (previously called UTZ Kapek). In 2004 the Company was awarded the Rainforest Alliance Certified seal, becoming the largest coffee supplier with this label.

Starbucks and Nespresso have their own quality programs, Starbucks’ Coffee and Farmer Equity Practices and Triple A (AAA), respectively, with focus on quality, origin and cup profile. Ipanema Coffees has been taking part in the first program since 2003 and in the second program since 2011. In 2012, the Company was also awarded with the Fair Trade USA certification.

About Ipanema Coffees
Ipanema Coffees is among the most renowned specialty coffee producers in the international market, and their work is guided by innovation, long-term relationships and consistency in their production and trade of specialty coffees for importers, coffee roasters and coffee shops. With 14 million trees planted on three farms in the south of the State of Minas Gerais – Rio Verde, Conquista and Capoeirinha – Ipanema offers eight labels – Reserve, Bourbon, Ouro Preto, Gourmet, Espresso, Conquista, Rio Verde and Dulce – and countless possibilities provided by their production areas, tailoring products as well as packaging and traceability unique solutions for each customer.

Based on processes focused on innovation, which result in operational excellence and consistency in production and commercialization, Ipanema develops long-term relationships with their customers. Due to the specialty coffee consumption around the world, their strategy is to invest in important local players from several countries. Therefore, Ipanema conquers more and more markets in Europe, the United States, Australia, Russia, Japan and South Korea, among others.

Pioneer in Brazil in specialty coffee export, Ipanema Coffees celebrates, in 2017, 26 years of external market presence, taking the highest quality coffees to 28 countries, and summing up, at the end of this period, 2.0 million bags – each bag weighs 132 pounds (60 kg). This is the first time in Brazil that such a volume is achieved for exports made directly from the farm. Innovative techniques and equipment continuously improve their processes and products to take the best to the external market. Every stage of the production chain ensures the highest quality: ideal level of cherry ripening, harvest method, lot classification, container loading, and delivery to end customers. Micro-lots and exclusive blends come alive from the monitoring of the bean quality during the whole milling process and the meticulous analysis of the tasting profile.
For more information, visit http://www.ipanemacoffees.com.br/

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