Aponte Indigenous Reserve

Coffee from an Inga tribe – Colombia

Deep valleys, thick jungles - that is what the 25 families from Valle de Sibundoy in the nearby Putamayo had to go through in the mid 16th century, when they left their home to settled in what is today Aponte, near El Tablón de Gómez. While the path crossed hostile forests and the Paramó de Juanoy, a high-altitude tundra plateau south of the Doña Juana volcano, it has been preserved to maintain communication between the newly-created community of Aponte and the one in Valle de Sibundoy.

Descendants of the Incas, Aponte is an Inga community of about 5,000 people. Being an indigenous reservation, it has a special organisation and special rules imposed by the community, under the command of the indigenous governor and the indigenous guards. During the Spanish conquest, their geographical isolation became their refuge and the community remained isolated from the rest of Colombia until the mid 19th century. During the time, they maintained however strong relationships with other native tribes living in the Amazon rainforest in Putamayo.


El Tablón de Gómez, Nariño

1,500 - 2,300 M.A.S.L.

Reserve population:
5,000 people


April - June

fully-washed, sun-dried

The Aponte Community has adapted to the roughed terrain and climate that Nariño has to offer and live primarily from agriculture. In the mi-1990s, guerilla groups and drug-trafficker forcibly enrolled the Aponte population in opium-poppy cultivation. Violence undermined the area for about 15 years, until the illegal crops were eradicated. Caturra coffee trees have been planted and became a tremendous opportunity for the community to earn a decent income and stay away from illegal crops.

Coffee trees have been instinctually planted within other crops like banana and maize, which provide the necessary shades and natural fertiliser. Each producer processes his own harvest and operates his own wet-mill. Each producer cultivates small areas of land, usually located right up the wet mill. After being manually sorted and selected, the coffee cherries undergo the usual depulping and floating steps, before being fermented in water for 36 hours and dried on raised beds.

The Aponte community benefits from a wide range of microclimate and altitude, which allows for a diverse agriculture. Along coffee, they also grow maize or various vegetables and have recently extended their activity to cattle ranching. Coffee remains however their main resource and income driver.

Projekt Kaffee in DR Kongo: Virunga Nationalpark

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