Pu'er, China

An agroforestry project implemented with smallholder farmers and coffee supply chains.

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About Pu'er

In 2022 an agroforestry project was implemented with local farmers and coffee companies, in the Pu’er region of Yunnan, China. It addresses coffee production in the area, which is strongly affected by climate change, droughts, soil depletion, and pests.


Frequent droughts and floods, soil depletion on steep plots, and pests, specifically the coffee borer (Xylotrechus Quadripes), can impact up to 50% of farmer’s harvests—in extreme situations—for coffee production in the Pu’er region of Yunnan, China. Farmers today lack the awareness, training and technical knowledge to implement agroforestry models to mitigate these risks.

PUR started the Pu’er project to address these challenges, implementing agroforestry activities with local farmers and coffee companies. The project, designed and adapted to the local conditions in South West China, promotes the planting of shade and fruit trees. Planting shade trees improves the quality of the coffee beans and helps mitigate the impact of climate change, reducing pressure from the coffee borer pest, which proliferates under warm and dry conditions. In addition, planting multiple tree species can increase revenue for smallholder farmers while providing the best shade for coffee trees and improving local environmental conditions. PUR provides farmers with recommendations to adopt Good Agriculture Practices—benefits in adding mulch and/or cover crops—bringing concrete economic and ecological benefits.

Since 2022, PUR has established a local team with extensive experience and a wealth of knowledge in coffee and agroforestry practices in direct project implementation.

Diversified Tree Species

PUR has distributed 281,000 trees in Yunnan, China for the Pu’er project. The diversified tree species list is updated regularly, recently expanding to include 24 species based on feedback from farmers and expertise from PUR’s agroforestry specialist—Stephanie Gagliardi (PhD)—and a botanist specialized in species from the Pu’er region.

Cover Crops

A practice that involves growing a variety of different crops in a planned sequence on the same piece of land over a series of seasons or years. This rotation typically includes a range of plant species with different characteristics, growth habits, nutrient requirements, and susceptibility to pests and diseases.

Adaptive Management

Improvements are made to ensure participating farmers understand planting practices, models and locations. July is the height of planting season, but due to an unusually dry period, which can increase the mortality risks for newly planted seedlings, this year PUR’s project team monitored precipitation patterns and postponed part of seedling distribution until the end of the drought period in August. PUR’s adaptive management plan ensures the quality of seedlings and trees for beneficial impact.

We have been growing coffee since 1997 and over the years the coffee production has faced a variety of challenges. Especially droughts and long-horned beetle damage hampering production. At the start of the project, I learned about the benefits of shade trees and how the trees can help stabilize production. I also appreciated the idea that the project will help increase the biodiversity in our coffee gardens and landscape. This year we received a lot of seedlings with a high species diversity. Not all the species were familiar to us, which decreased their acceptance by the coffee growers, but PUR provided additional training to help increase the knowledge of coffee growers on species and planting models.”

Mr. GUO, Owner, Puwen Changsheng Coffee Company