This farmer is saving the jungle by growing food in it

farmer potato

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Joe Myers, Writer, Formative Content


“My dream is to create a sustainable farm, this is my work.”

Alexander Retana is a farmer with a different kind of farm. His – where he grows around 22 different crops from bananas to cacao – is right among the trees of the Costa Rican rainforest.

It’s a big change from just a few years ago, when the area was just open rice fields. Initially, Retana grew trees for shade from the heat of the sun. But things soon expanded as he planted more trees, until he’d built a whole new ecosystem above his head.

The approach, known as agroforestry, brings together traditional agriculture and the cultivation of trees – allowing crops and forest to grow alongside each other.

The canopy of trees doesn’t just provide shade for the farmer, though. “The trees help other plants to survive better in the farm,” he explains. Restoring the jungle increases precipitation and helps retain more moisture in the soil, while wildlife help control pests.

Join the Voice for the Planet movement

Voice for the Planet is a global online action campaign calling for action on climate change.

Launched by the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers Community at Davos in 2019 and in partnership with the Netflix and World Wildlife Fund “Our Planet” series, it encourages people to make commitments to change the way they eat, embrace renewable energy, restore nature in their communities, change what they buy and ask their government leaders to act.

Add your voice here.

“We need to have crops and trees living together in the ecosystem,” Retana believes. “Agroforestry can exist everywhere in the tropical ecosystem around the world. This is one of the solutions to save the forest.”

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