Major progress in the promotion of cocoa agroforestry in Côte d’Ivoire

In the face of the alarming reduction in forest cover in Côte d’Ivoire, agroforestry is emerging as a solution that can effectively contribute to the sustainability of the cocoa sector and the national effort to restore Ivorian forest cover to about 20% by 2030.

Agroforestry is thus a major activity promoted by the Cocoa & Forests Initiative’s Joint Framework for Action, a commitment signed in November 2017 by the Government of Côte d’Ivoire and companies from the cocoa and chocolate sector, which stipulates that “the Government will develop sustainable agroforestry models, in consultation with all stakeholders”. A thematic group on “Agroforestry and sustainable production” was thus set up with the objective of identifying good practices and operational guidelines for mixed agroforestry systems that can be easily scaled up.

Although stakeholders are unanimous on the opportunities related to agroforestry, some constraints remain, such as: (i) access to forest tree seeds and/or seedlings, (ii) the economic and financial viability of agro-forestry systems, (iii) the coordination of initiatives in the field, (iv) land tenure security, (v) tree ownership, as well as (vi) the dissemination of agro-forestry techniques.

To address these challenges, the Conseil du Café-Cacao (CCC) – the regulatory body for the coffee-cocoa sector in Côte d’Ivoire – has committed itself in recent years to coordinating all initiatives aimed at promoting agroforestry in the cocoa sector.

To this end, several actions have already been initiated, including the organization of a national workshop to review agro-forestry techniques on 28-30 November 2018. This workshop helped progress on the following points:

  • Stakeholders agreed on the categories of existing practices in agroforestry;
  • Common norms and standards, which were not known to all parties, were identified and validated;

Following this workshop, the CCC developed early 2019, a guidance note for the implementation of projects to promote agro-forestry techniques in cocoa and coffee crops in early 2019.

This note provides guidance on the cultivation techniques to be promoted in order to maintain sustainable ecological conditions for coffee and cocoa production. It also invites stakeholders to inform the CCC before starting a new agroforestry-related activity.

Following this workshop, the CCC developed early 2019, a guidance note for the implementation of projects to promote agro-forestry techniques in cocoa and coffee crops in early 2019.

This note provides guidance on the cultivation techniques to be promoted in order to maintain sustainable ecological conditions for coffee and cocoa production. It also invites stakeholders to inform the CCC before starting a new agroforestry-related activity.

Following this note, the next steps will include:

  • Implementation of a national pilot project to promote agroforestry in cocoa farming. This pilot project initiated by the CCC will be implemented in collaboration with the competent national structures in charge of forests (MINEF), capacity building (ANADER) and research (CNRA);
  • Raising awareness among stakeholders on official guidelines. The CCC will thus follow up with partners to ensure that the recommendations are properly received and understood;
  • Training and awareness-raising of rural stakeholders, particularly cocoa-producing communities, on the importance of agroforestry in cocoa farming.

In addition to all these actions, the cocoa companies committed, in their initial action plans published in early March 2019, to support the distribution and planting of multipurpose trees or indigenous trees to be planted on and off cocoa plantations, with a target of 244,400 hectares of cocoa agroforestry and 13 millions of multipurpose trees to be distributed in farms; and this, in close collaboration with the CCC.

The foundations for the successful promotion of agroforestry in cocoa farming in Côte d’Ivoire are therefore being laid, under the supervision of the CCC.

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