Coffee is the Doi Chaang Farmer's Circle of Life
It is the quality of the single-origin, organic Doi Chaang coffee that sustains the Doi Chaang Akha farmers and their environment. Without doubt, if it were not for the farmers' commitment to consistently producing high quality coffee, they would remain impoverished and their environment would have continued to deteriorate.
Until the mid 1960's the Doi Chaang farmers (near the Golden Triangle) needed the land to grow opium so they burnt down the forest, destroying the soil and wildlife habitat.
Responding to the initiative of His Majesty, the king of Thailand to end opium plantation, the farmers turned to grow other products such as tomatoes, cabbages and many other highland fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately, the need for land to grow the products did not stop destroying the forest and soil erosion.
In the mid 1980's, as the result of a further initiative of the king, the farmers began growing coffee in small individual landholdings but still remained impoverished due to many unscrupulous coffee dealers.
In the early 2000's, many of the farmers combined their efforts and formed Doi Chaang Fresh Roasted Coffee company ("Fresh Roasted"), which is essentially a co-operative, the result of which has been to transform their lives and the environment.
In late 2006, "Fresh Roasted" and a small Canadian group established Vancouver-based Doi Chaang Coffee Company on an equal ownership basis with the Canadians funding 100% of the North American and European operations.
The people and their community
Over the past few years, the farmers' lives and their environment have improved significantly, with their increased income being re-invested in improving their community.
This has enabled the Doi Chaang Akha farmers and families to maintain their culture and improve quality of live through better housing, water, electricity and medical facilities. Young people see a way to make a living in their village and no longer leave to seek jobs elsewhere.
Incredibly, using their initiative and resources, the farmers of Fresh Roasted have built an academy at Doi Chaang for the purpose of educating farmers in the Doi Chaang region on how to grow a superior coffee.
The original curriculum has been expanded from growing techniques to teaching the benefits of using organic fertilizers, planting trees to provide shade, personal health and money management.
Each year, Doi Chaang farmers help grow over 100,000 trees to reforest the historic slash and burn clearings to provide shade for new coffee plants, which helps prevent erosion and provides an improved habitat for animals, birds, and insects, especially bees which are attracted to the coffee blossoms.
There are over 100 beehives producing honey. The trees are of a wide variety, including Macadamia, Peach, Pear and Plum which provide additional income and natural fertilizer.
Fertilization of the coffee plants is provided solely from the forest foliage, plus the skin, mucilage and parchment of the coffee cherries, therefore no chemicals or pesticides are used when growing Doi Chaang Coffee. Consequently there is no chemical pollution of the ground, ground water or streams.
In recent years, the variety and number of animals and birds has increased significantly, in particular the wild Thai Asian Palm Civet and bees.