During the yearly meeting of the Society for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) in Basel, Switzerland, CREM gave a presentation about shade-grown cocoa, its relationship with biodiversity and ecosystem services and payment for these services.
Shade trees provide ecosystem services
Cocoa produces best under shade trees, which is where you find the natural habitat of the cocoa tree. Cocoa trees in such a system (with 40% shade) benefit from diverse ecosystem services: control of sicknesses and pests, better water management and maintenance of soil fertility. Shade trees provide products such as wood, nuts and fruits, which give the farmer additional income.
Cocoa production is now under pressure. There is a growing market demand, stagnant production and a trend towards monocropping (cocoa production without or with few shade trees). However, without shade trees, cocoa production falls drastically after 2 or 3 years. Farmers then need to rely on chemical agricultural inputs to fight against sicknesses and maintain soil fertility.
A recent pilot project in Ghana showed how the combination of cocoa trees with shade trees grown for the wood industry can be very lucrative for cocoa farmers. The incomes of cocoa farmers can double after 7 years. Along with the income from the sale of cocoa beans, the farmers receive a relatively high sum from the sale of the wood. And they get the accompanying ecosystem services for free!
More info: Victor de Lange