The goal of the Vision for Change project to revitalize the cocoa sector in Soubré and across Côte d’Ivoire – so that it can result in well-trained cocoa producers, higher yields and a cocoa economy that benefits the entire community.
One major component of the project is to develop and disseminate sustainable management options for cocoa rehabilitation, including cocoa farm diversification. Farmers who rely solely on cocoa for their livelihood may not be making the most out of their smallholding, and may be more vulnerable to large fluctuations in commodity prices.
As an under-shade tree crop, cocoa can be grown with a number of other tree species in a diverse agroforestry system that can bring new economic and environmental benefits. In order to review what agroforestry species and management practices could be used in the Vision for Change project , the Mars/World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) team organised a major workshop recently in Grand Bassam, Côte d’Ivoire.
More than 40 participants from 17 institutions gathered to discuss farmer’s input and ideas on several key topics, including companion crops, the many benefits of tree diversification, how to scale up agroforestry interventions, how to propagate tree crop germplasm, synergies with certification, environmental benefits and new partnership and funding opportunities.
Highly engaged participants at the workshop came up many positive outcomes and next steps, including lists of useful native trees, ways to grow cocoa and rubber together, systems in which trees could help manage CSSV disease spread.
In addition the group discussed various agricultural approaches where agroforestry could help improve soil fertility management and create other environmental benefits. This is critical in the effort to meet increasing demand for cocoa, which is growing by 2 percent each year. Globally, cocoa is produced by 6.5 million smallholder families, and annual production must increase by 1 million tonnes over the next decade to keep pace.
Going forward, V4C will test, develop and implement the best cocoa agroforestry systems put forward by the workshop to help improve farmer’s livelihoods, as the project continues to expand in Western Côte d’Ivoire.