Discussion Paper

Agroforestry Price Supports as a Conservation Tool: Mexican Shade Coffee

Dec 22, 2008 | Beatriz Ávalos Sartorio, Allen Blackman


Economic policies that boost the return to mixed agroforesty, thereby creating financial incentives for land managers to favor these systems over less environmentally friendly land uses, could,in theory, have ancillary environmental benefits. This paper analyses primary and secondary data to determine whether a voluntary price support program for Mexican coffee—mostly grown in shadedsystems that supply important ecosystem services—has had such “win-win” benefits by stemming rampant land-use change in the coffee sector. We find that although the program attracted the types ofgrowers associated with land-use change, it attracted only a relatively small number of them, did not target growing areas hardest hit by conversion to other land uses, and provided subsidies that were probably too small to affect land-use decisions. These results raise serious questions about the ability of a mixed agroforestry price support program with a modest price floor to have a significant conservation impact.