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Kingdom Life LLC is a unique international venture combining the economic development of the tribal people of northern Thailandwith the marketing and business development attributes of a US company from Salem, Oregon. Together they ensure the coffee that is grown in these ideal mountain conditions remains under the ownership of the villagers, while Kingdom Life LLC, under the dba of Kings Coffee, ensures the high quality of marketing and representation of the green and roasted mountain coffee beans to the international market. At the same time they are guaranteeing above Fair Trade pricing to the coffee growing farmers operating in this business arrangement that is bringing prosperity to the tribal people.

The vast majority of the coffee grown in Thailand is robusta, grown in the southern part of the country and commonly doused with chemicals. In the late 1970s, planting of arabica coffee (and other crops) in the northern highlands was encouraged in order to replace the cultivation of opium poppies, as well as to counter deforestation from shifting agriculture practiced by many of the local ethnic groups, known as "hill tribes." This effort did not get much traction at the time. The hill tribes of the northern Thailand have faced extreme challenges in the past several decades. When cultivation of opium poppies was outlawed in 1958, it forced these people to use more land to generate income and sustenance, a situation exacerbated by their increasing numbers, which have quadrupled the last 30 years; the growth rate is double that of the national average. The poverty of the hill tribes is further compounded by their cultural isolation, difficulty in attaining citizenship and land ownership, and lack of good access to education and other employment opportunities.

Typically, as a tribe would grow, they would cut down more jungle to be able to grow more rice. Because the government of Thailand does not want a "slash and burn" mentality, they have told the tribes that they can no longer cut down the jungle forest. This has led to a increasing food shortage crisis in the hill tribes. Where their annual income is under $30 US per person, they don't have the money to be able to buy the rice and food they need. This is one of the main reasons that Kingdom Life LLC has come into this area and provided the coffee plants and the training for these tribal people to give them a sustainable income. With the money that they make from their farming of the coffee, they have more than enough to provide for their families. We are teaching not only agricultural skills, but also business skills that will bring "prosperity through business" which is the purpose of Kingdom Life LLC.

Until recently, much of the coffee grown in Thailand was typically used in the domestic market. The better arabica beans were mixed in with inferior beans, so some farmers were not receiving the prices their beans merited. Now Kingdom Life LLC is working with the hill tribes in northern Thailand to market their beans in the United States and internationally. We are currently working with the Akha, Karen and Lesu tribes in the villages of Doi Chaang, Huey Hawm, Kiow Kamin, Ban Huey Sai and Ban Huey Wai, just to name a few (there are many more villages we are working with). We train the tribal people to become coffee farmers so that they can grow and harvest the coffee and become self sufficient.The coffee is grown at elevations of 3000 to 4000 feet elevation. The coffee is grown under the shade of various fruit and nut trees, including macadamia, plum, pear, and peach. We have planted an additional 250,000 arabica coffee plants this year and will be doing the same next year, expanding the program to other villages.

Reforestation efforts in the area strive for a 50/50 mix of native tree species and cash crop species (both marketable and consumable crops are necessary to replace the income formerly generated by poppy growing). The coffee is wet processed and sun dried. This project represents part of an effort towards sustainable agriculture and development in northern Thailand to provide economic stability for the hill tribes. Thailand has been losing forests at a higher rate than most other southeast Asian countries. Although mixed agriculture that includes coffee and other crops and native trees is not "reforestation" in a pure sense, it is certainly preferable to illegal logging and unsustainable farming practices. Some ventures to aid the hill tribes have met with criticism and failure, and one of the early problems was an inability to efficiently move and market cash crops. The marketing efforts of Kingdom Life LLC dba Kings Coffee, as well as the retention of ownership by the individual tribes, indicate this project is better conceived and executed, and much more of a success.

Below is a picture of a sign on one of the farms. It says that this coffee is certified organic by the Agriculture Department of the Government of Thailand.