OCIA is a farmer-based, “grass-roots” organization that strongly encourages the formation of local farmers associations or chapters. At present, it has 58 chapters totaling some 4,500 grower members throughout the world. It requires member processors, traders and manufacturers, to abide by the same rules and code of ethics and have to be part of the control process in order to assure of products grown and handled under these standards.
OCIA’s program of organic certification aims for a demonstrably independent and neutral third party system to insure that certified members adhere to a unified set of stringent production and handling standards, backed up by an audit trail through which a product can be traced from the final consumer, back to the farmer and field. A system of peer evaluation in local groups supports certification inspectors in their work.
Coffee produced without synthetic chemicals under a philosophy that considers the farm to be an ecosystem. Organic production emphasizes soil health, recycling, composting, and biological activity to protect the farm environment.
Organically-grown coffee is usually shade-grown: The trees of the canopy provide the organic coffee farm with its necessities, including leaf litter, a fertilizer, and a moist environment. The wildlife that lives under the canopy controls pests that would otherwise attack the coffee plant.
Organic Foods Production Act
The 1990 U.S. Department of Agriculture act standardizes the use of the label “organic,” subsuming state standards.
Origins of coffee
The word “coffee” has its origins in an old Arabic word, “Qahwah,”or wine: The earliest coffee drink was a wine made from coffee cherries, honey, and water. After Islam’s arrival in the sixth century, prohibitions on alcohol led to this wine’s demise.
Coffee is indigenous to Ethiopia’s Kaffa (coffee) region. In the sixth century, Arabs took it to Yemen and began cultivating it there. The original hot coffee drink took its name from the Arabian port of Al Mukkah (Mocha) on the Red Sea, for centuries the sole source for the world’s coffee imports.
In the 1600’s, smugglers broke the Arab’s coffee growing monopoly by taking coffee seeds from Mocha to southern India. In the early 1700’s Java became a famous coffee growing island after the Dutch began cultivating coffee there.
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