The complexity of ecological interactions increases with the increase of biodiversity within coffee farms. Some of these complex interactions are hidden from plain view because they are indirect, of higher order, and sometimes involve very tiny organisms. However, these interactions are an essential component of the ecology of diverse coffee farms, both large and small. We develop a board game that incorporates some of these complex ecological interactions so that farmers can learn about them in a non-threatening environment. Although diverse large coffee plantations are likely to have the same sort of complex ecology than small scale diverse coffee farms, it is less likely that plantation owners, managers (mayordomos and caporales) or farmworkers become aware or interested in understanding these interactions than campesinos who are directly managing the diversity within their coffee plots. Part of the livelihood strategies of these small-scale farmers include reducing the economic dependency that emerges from using agrochemicals. Reducing economic dependency is a form of resistance employed by coffee campesinos to maintain their livelihood. As part of this resistance they practice knowledge intensive, rather than capital intensive, agriculture. knowledge comes from past generations (which in the case of coffee goes back for only 200 years) and from their own observations and trial and error experiments within their farms. The Azteca Chess game is just a catalyst to stimulate their own ability to interpret nature.
Participant: Ivette PERFECTO
School of Environment and Sustainability | University of Michigan
Presentation:"Coffee Landscapes Shaping the Anthropocene: A Socio-Ecological Portrait of Coffee Plantations in the Soconusco Region of Chiapas, Mexico (co-authors, M. Esteli Jimenez-Soto) and John Vandermeer"