Coffee, Commerce, and Colombian National Soil Science (1929–1946)

  • Greta Marchesi


This chapter explores the soil research and management programs of Colombia’s Federation of Colombian Coffee Growers (FEDECAFE) as part of a campaign to ensure the long-term viability of the nation’s largest and most prominent export crop. FEDECAFE agronomists married original field research to popular religious and political discourse, instructing farmers in new soil management techniques that prioritized healthy microbial communities over short-term capital-intensive pest management programs. Their work was designed to serve a constituency composed of largely peasant smallholders struggling for subsistence in a period of increased erosion and declining coffee yields. I argue that FEDECAFE’s low-input, ecologically sensitive formulations of soil management were eclipsed in the 1950s by the US Green Revolution science, a shift in scientific land management that supported plantation-scaled industrialization of Colombian coffee farming.


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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Greta Marchesi
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of GeographyDartmouth CollegeHanoverUSA

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