Is Kratom Farming Sustainable and Environmentally Friendly?

South Sumatran farmland

In the past few years, global concern about matters like climate change, worker rights and deforestation, among others, has been on the rise. The attention to the sourcing of everyday goods is also increasing. As such, it’s understandable that Kratom users are investigating whether their preferred plant has been grown in a way that is both morally and environmentally sound.

What is Kratom?

Kratom, official name Mitragyna speciosa, is a tropical evergreen tree found natively in Southeast Asia. Part of the coffee family, natives have been using the Kratom leaf medicinally for years, while only relatively recently have Westerners taken an interest in the herb and it’s 40 active alkaloid compounds.

The Kratom plant hasn’t been approved for human consumption by most regulatory bodies in the Western world, but that hasn’t stopped researchers from continuing their work or prevented public curiosity.

Farming Kratom

Kratom is typically farmed in environments where it is found naturally, where local farmers pass their skills from one generation down to another. The most important piece of knowledge to a Kratom farmer is the Mitragyna speciosa tree’s age; the tree can’t be younger than three years old for it to be harvested. The older it is, the better the effects of the Kratom, and most farmers prefer to use trees around 20 years of age.

More so, the act of harvesting Kratom leaves involves selectively pruning the trees, as opposed to cutting them down. Kratom farmers mitigate the damage to the tree by pinching the leaves rather than using sharp instruments, allowing the Kratom to continue growing for future generations.

These are important things to note, as it means Kratom lends itself to being harvested sustainably, since doing otherwise would reduce the amount and potency of the plant’s leaves.

Selectively pruning wild trees, or ones on private land, is one of the current practices used by farmers.

To Remain Sustainable

Farmed Kratom

Current Kratom farming is very environmentally friendly and sustainable but some people worry about the impact that increased demand for Kratom in other parts of the world will have.

Kratom farming can remain sustainable despite growth in the plant’s popularity, so long as farmers remember some very important guidelines:

  • Harvest only what’s needed
  • Protect new growth when harvesting
  • Avoid using pesticides and other harsh chemicals
  • Stick to wild and backyard farming
  • Prevent damage to the rainforest canopy, which Kratom grows under
  • Only harvest leaves that are ready
  • Leave trees with enough leaves to be healthy between harvests

A Positive Side Effect?

On the contrary to what you might assume, the increasing popularity of Kratom could potentially disrupt more harmful farming industries. The palm oil and timber industries, for example, cause significant damage to the local ecosystems and wildlife and often account for vast illegal deforestation. But these industries are profitable for local farmers, with few alternative options. Since growing and harvesting Kratom rewards farmers for using sustainable practices in order to get a more potent and longer lasting yield, the by product of farmers switching to Kratom over other industries would likely be a significant net gain for the environment.

In Summary

Deforestation is a huge problem in Asia; Kratom farming could fall into the same cycle as so many other resources. However, Kratom has been sustainably farmed in small pods for centuries, keeping it decentralized and environmentally friendly. Even with the recent uptick in interest and demand, Kratom farming should remain sustainable for the foreseeable future.

Written by Daniel Recardo

Founder of Kratom IQ; a self-improvement junkie and Kratom enthusiast. I started this website in 2015 to help people avoid the common pitfalls and mistakes with Mitragyna Speciosa, and ultimately get the most out of this amazing plant. Learn More...

Further Reading

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