Agroforestry – a holistic approach
A further consequence of poverty is that small farmers often grow their cocoa as a monoculture – in the hope that they will produce higher cocoa bean yields. A mistaken belief that only bears fruit in the first few years. Monocultures destroy the fertility of the soil and make the trees more susceptible to disease.
One idea – many benefits
One holistic and therefore promising approach is agroforestry – a combination of agriculture and forestry. Studies by the Honduras Foundation for Agricultural Research showed that in certain situations it can be very lucrative for cocoa farmers to switch from monocultures to agroforestry systems. The economic benefits of combining agriculture and forestry are astonishing. By growing mahogany or teak in their cocoa plantations, farmers in Honduras for example can quadruple their incomes over the long term.
In ecological terms, biodiversity increases, CO2 is absorbed, and hardwood trees help to stabilize the local water supply. Combining agriculture and forestry provides people in the region with a better income, thus protecting the existing rainforest.
Chocolats Halba is carrying out reforestation projects with the cocoa cooperatives and the Pur Projet organization in Ghana, Peru and Honduras. In these countries, agroforestry systems that combine hardwood trees and cocoa are being established.