Updated: Oct 24, 2019
At the same time that we are all increasing our focus on the environment in the wake of climate change’s growing threat, Kratom is garnering increased interest from researchers looking for a solution to the rowing worldwide opioid crisis. Therefore, it’s natural that Kratom farming practices would be under increased scrutiny. Farming and the environment have a long and often contentious relationship. After all, farmers need money, and that takes crops, which require land to grow on. Maximizing profit, however, has often led to barren land, ecological calamity, and periods of hunger and poverty. Modern sustainable farming practices, properly implemented, can provide plenty of profit, sufficient yield, and protect the environment for future generations, and Kratom farming is at the forefront of this field.
The Kratom Plant
Mitragyna speciosa, more commonly referred to as Kratom, is an evergreen tree in the coffee family that is native to the rainforests of Southeast Asia. Its leaves have traditionally been used by indigenous people as a medicinal substance. With over 40 active alkaloid compounds, Western researchers have shown interest in exploring its potential uses for a variety of reasons, though human consumption is still not approved by most regulating bodies. This ethnobotanical grows readily in the moist acidic soil of the region, where it is nourished by volcanic minerals, plentiful water, and the warm, wet climate along the equator.
Kratom farming is a tradition here, often carried out by families in the small villages that dot the region’s forests. As it’s grown in popularity, the Kratom industry as a whole has leaned into these traditions, creating a cash crop based around both sustainable and ethical practices. This farming model looks far different than Western agriculture and differs significantly from the large industrial farming operations of other crops in the region. The result is a blending of farming and the environment that helps support the local economy, biodiverse ecology, and the production needs of Kratom enthusiasts.
Rather than clear-cutting the forest to create large plantations, a practice often seen with palm oil and timber enterprises, Kratom farming in the region does not rely on creating large monoculture fields. Rather, Kratom farmers use a mixture of wild tree cultivation and small backyard “farms” to supply the leaves they harvest. This maintains the area’s biodiversity by leaving non-Kratom flora intact.
Wildlife Habitats Are Maintained
This decentralized format has the immediate benefit of preserving the habitat of the numerous species that call these rainforests home. From the endangered Sumatra Tiger, which has less than 700 animals remaining in the wild, to our close cousins, the orangutan, Asian jungles are home to species found nowhere else in the world. These animals are part of a delicate natural balance that has already been disrupted in some areas by human encroachment. By working with the same people who have lived in these areas for generations, we’re able to carry out our sustainable Kratom farming without disturbing the animals’ homes.
In the quest for profit, industrial farming uses a means-justify-the-ends approach to increasing yields. To ensure that there is an adequate Kratom supply today and for future generations, selective pruning is used for Kratom harvests. Knowledgeable farmers take only the leaves needed for harvest now, often pinching them from the tree or using sharper blades that cause less damage. This leads to healthier Kratom production as only mature leaves with the desired vein colors are taken, and the tree is left healthy, hardy, and with the ability to feed existing and new growth for future harvests.
In addition, by using the rich soil of the wild forest to nourish the plants, there’s no need for harsh, often toxic, chemical fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides in Kratom farming. While these ostensibly are “safe” when used properly in industrial farm settings after proper processing to remove them, they can leach into the groundwater, spreading to nearby trees. In a forest, this could be devastating as the entire ecosystem has adapted to support itself. Wild farming and backyard farming eliminate this risky practice.
Fair Trade Practices
Fair trade policies may not seem like an environmental issue, but in many cases it is. Fair trade is meant to provide value for value to farmers and producers. This is in contrast to the colonial practice of paying pennies to workers in an undeveloped area to strip of its resources, then turning a massive profit on it in wealthier countries. In order to survive, these workers are forced into unsafe, predatory working conditions while destroying their homeland. It has been a process repeated throughout the centuries with a result of traditional populations being forced to abandon their homes and assimilate into larger cities or cultures to avoid starvation. In modern times, entire villages have been bulldozed under to make way for timber clear-cutting or the establishment of mono-crop plantations, sometimes without compensation to the people dislocated.
The small villages in this region have existed as semi-isolated communities, in some cases for hundreds of years. They are built on strong intermingled family units, oral histories, and traditions that have served them for generations. When these disappear, whether because they are fleeing destruction or because their youth have migrated to the cities for income, a piece of history is lost, never to return.
Fair trade practices provide a stable income source that lets them keep their ancestral homes, preserve the forest around them, and continue their traditions. By working with them on the latest ethical Kratom farming techniques, we’re not only strengthening the harvest now, but we’re also helping preserve their community by preparing the next generation to provide a healthy income without abandoning the village. Creating a sustainable harmony between farming and the environment also helps fend off offers from industrial agriculture developers and gives governments reasons to keep them out of pristine jungle lands.
When you choose a reputable Kratom supplier who supports ethical, sustainable Kratom farming, you’re helping protect one of the few last unsullied wilderness areas on the planet.
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