The article was originally published on Mongabay on 3 May.
An agroforestry initiative in a cocoa-growing community on Cameroon aims to prevent the expansion of cocoa farms into the nearby forest while also providing additional income to farmers: The Ascokyb project co-funded with Cargill-Telcar in the Grand Mbam landscape in Cameroon and implemented with support with the International Center for Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF) in a cocoa-growing community in Ntui aims to prevent the expansion of cocoa farms into the nearby Ascokyb community forest while also providing additional income to farmers. It is part of the broader Green Commodity Landscape Program, which brings together key cocoa stakeholders to co-design and jointly implement actions that help protect forests, improve sustainable production of cocoa and enhanced livelihoods for farmers and surrounding communities in the Grand Mbam landscape.
The importance of the Cocoa sector in Cameroon
Agriculture, cocoa in particular, is one of the main sources of income for local communities in Central region of Cameroon. The pressure for land conversion into community forests is considerable, especially given the State of Cameroon ambition to increase the current average annual production of 250 000 tons to 600 000 tons by 2030. The cocoa sector plays a vital role in Cameroon for job and wealth creation for local communities, and for forest protection and ecosystem conservation.
Cocoa production is one driver of deforestation and contribute to threatening the ecological integrity of Community Forests (CFs). Agricultural development must be balanced with protecting the rainforest that covers approximately 46% of the country’s territory.
Cameroon cocoa growers plant fruit trees to slow forest conversion
Cocoa farmers in part of Cameroon’s Centre region have begun planting fruit trees alongside their cocoa trees. Agroforestry promoters hope additional income from the sale of this supplementary harvest will help protect the nearby Ntui Community Forest from further expansion of cocoa plantations.
The Ascokyb project co-funded with Cargill-Telcar in the Grand Mbam landscape in Cameroon and implemented with support with ICRAF in a cocoa-growing community in Ntui aims to prevent the expansion of cocoa farms into the nearby Ascokyb community forest while also providing additional income to farmers. It is part of the broader Green Commodity Landscape Program, which brings together key cocoa stakeholders to co-design and jointly implement actions that help protect forests, improve sustainable production of cocoa and enhanced livelihoods for farmers and surrounding communities in the Grand Mbam landscape.
In turn, the Green Commodity Landscape Program aims to promote an integrated approach to community forest (CF) management from a multipurpose perspective wherein climate mitigation and adaptation are addressed alongside the original livelihood and forest management objectives of CF, whereby it promotes the cocoa productivity and quality by implementing an improved method of cocoa agroforestry system and strengthen, community forest management at the landscape scale.
Divine Foundjem Tita, a researcher with the International Center for Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF) which is a partner in this agroforestry project, told Mongabay that following a recent inventory in 2023, cocoa farmers had taken over 60-65% of this community forest established in 2008.
“Survival instincts and pressure from the migrant population settling in the area are the reasons farmers have pushed forward for expanding into the forest,” Tita said.
In April 2022, Netherlands-based IDH, which works to promote and leverage finance for more sustainable production and trade of commodities like cocoa, along with ICRAF and Telcar, the local presence of agriculture commodity giant Cargill, launched a project to encourage farmers here to plant trees that could produce other valuable fruit on their existing cocoa plantations, instead of expanding into new areas of the forest.
The agroforestry initiative is only one component of a wider effort that will also try to improve sustainable cocoa-growing practices and productivity, map high-conservation-value areas in what remains of the community forest, and monitor carbon storage with a view to eventually earning income from carbon credits for both forest and plantations.
According to Tita:
The whole idea of promoting agroforestry around the Ntui Community Forest area is to intensify — increase the production of cocoa — so that farmers would no long encroach into the community forest … [to] use agroforestry to limit the expansion of cocoa into the existing community forest, farmers make more money from the hectare when the tree are integrated rather than expand to have more land for cocoa.
The project provides farmers with seedlings and helps them to nurse, transfer and plant fruit trees, including avocado, orange, njansang (Ricinodendron heudelotti) and wild mango (Irvingia gabonesis).
Working alongside IDH Cameroon’s staff, ICRAF technicians have held meetings on the importance of conserving the forest with farmers organized into the Kombé Yallongo and Bikong Community Association. ICRAF is also helping farmers at Ntui develop nurseries so the association’s members can continue to plant fruit trees after the project ends in 2024.
Access the original article here: Forests and Finance: Agroforestry in Cameroon and Reforestation in South Africa