Saving the forest, one cup at a time
published : 9 Apr 2020 at 04:00
newspaper section: Life
Krit Payakkan took early retirement from being a teacher in Chiang Mai and returned to his hometown in Mae Chaem district, about a two-and-a-half-hour drive apart, to live a sustainable life.
Following the footsteps of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, he wanted to help protect the forest, the source of clean and safe water, from the slash-and-burn traditional agricultural ways of local farmers.
The king introduced Arabica coffee trees along with other types of cold climate vegetables and fruits for hilltribe people to grow instead of growing poppies almost 50 years ago. Coffee trees can grow well in the highlands and under the shade of trees so that farmers do not need to cut trees for farming.
"Growing coffee can preserve our forest," he explained.
Unfortunately, he found that many farmers cleared out their farmlands to grow corn crops. Aiming for quicker income, they use chemical fertilisers and pesticides for their cornfields. After harvesting corn, they burn dry stalks, which contributes to air pollution every year.
"I want farmers to stop growing corn and start growing coffee trees instead," he said. Five years ago, he founded Payak Coffee Community Enterprise with 35 members. Today the group has more than 186 member families. They grow Arabica coffee trees without the use of chemicals. Their produce is available under the Payak Coffee brand.
"Our motto is 'One Cup = One Tree'. It means when you drink a cup of Payak coffee, you help preserve one tree," he said.
You don't have to be in Mae Chaem during this time to try Payak Coffee. Krit offers online orders. One kilogramme of Payak Coffee (either beans or ground) is only 500 baht. The packages come up with two options of 250g and 500g and three choices of roasting from light to medium and dark.
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