Monocropping vs intercropping Coffee – Aga Mixed Farm Agricultural Advisory Service

Monocropping vs intercropping Coffee

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The farmer needs to know the kind of system he/she needs to plan for field activities accordingly. Two types exist i.e. mono-cropping (pure stand) and intercropping (mixed stand).

Monocropping System

Monocropping is an agricultural practice of growing coffee as a single crop or pure stand on one piece of farmland.

Advantages and disadvantages of Coffee monocropping

Advantages Disadvantages
The coffee growing requirements, planting, maintenance including pest control and harvesting are the same across the farmed land. This lowers specific operational costs and enhances optimization of those operations. Food Insecurity: While increased coffee yieldsmay be attained, it can potentially reduce the food available to feed the households.
It is much easier to cultivate one kind of crop, in terms of the knowledge and experience needed to do it successfully. Growing the same coffee crop year-after-year depletes valuable soil nutrients that plants rely on and hence this deficiency must be compensated for by using increasing amounts of appropriate fertilizers.
Requires less labour/not labour intensive. High income risk in case of crop failure
Monoculture is highly susceptible to pests and diseases, requires intensive use of chemicals to control pests, diseases and weeds.


Intercropping is also known as mixed cropping or co-cultivation is a type of agriculture that involves planting coffee plus one or more different crops in the same field. While the coffee is still young, there is an area of land between the young coffee trees, which can be utilized to grow various crops, mainly food crops.
Recommended intercrops in young coffee include bananas, green pepper, cabbages, tomatoes, soya beans, groundnuts, and the non-climbing Phaseolus beans. However, these must be confined to the central 2m of the inter-row, leaving a clear 0.5mbetween them and the coffee tree. Two crops can be grown per year during the first two years but it is important to note, however, that growing beans on the same plots continuously, particularly in the humid areas, may result in serious problems of aphids. This practice, therefore, must be avoided. Maize, millet, rice and root tubers such as
potatoes and cassava are high nutrient demand crops and therefore not recommended.
The coffee-banana intercropping, as shown in is a major type of coffee system in Uganda. During the phase of early establishment, bananas, which are a permanent crop commonly grown with coffee, may be established. The banana will provide shade for the young coffee in the early years. However, if planted in large numbers, bananas may compete with coffee plants for nutrients. For this reason, a banana/coffee ratio of 1:4 is recommended.
In this combination, each banana plant would shade four coffee bushes and each coffee bush would be shaded by only one banana plant.

Advantages and disadvantages of the Coffee-Banana intercrop system

Advantages Disadvantages
Growing bananas in a young coffee field ensures that the farmer gets some return from the land before the coffee reaches the productive stage.. It increases competition for water, nutrients and light. Bananas generally suffer more.
Intercropping banana and coffee reduces the risks faced by farmers when cultivating monocrops. It is labour intensive and requires a lot of management and care.
Return to labour is often higher in banana–coffee systems. It increases total revenue/inflow per unit area by over 50% compared to coffee
If shade is too dense, the yield potential of coffee may be reduced due to competition of the coffee and the intercrop.
Improves coffee quality. In addition it provides food to the household. .
Increases yields by intensifying crop management of both bananas and coffee. .
The banana provides shade for coffee, which reduces stress caused by extreme temperatures and strong winds .
The banana crop residues provide mulch that improves root development in both banana and coffee and improves availability of potassium (K) in the topsoil, due to the large biomass turnover. .
The permanent canopy and root systems of banana reduce soil losses due to erosion by reducing the impact of rainfall drops and run offs on the topsoil .

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