Rikolto Podcast: Cocoa agroforestry systems against the wind and the effects of climate change

Rikolto Podcast: Cocoa agroforestry systems against the wind and the effects of climate change

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Podcast interview by Geraldine Masso, communication consultant for Rikolto, and Fausto Rodriguez, Director of Rikolto in Latin America.

Today much research has been done on the implementation of agroforestry systems (SAF) in cocoa farming and how the application of these systems could increase the resilience and sustainability of cocoa-producing families. In this new episode of Rikolto's podcast, in 7 minutes you will learn what agroforestry systems are all about, why their application in cocoa production could contribute to reducing the impact on the environment, and the effects suffered by cocoa-producing families due to climate change. Fausto, Rikolto's project coordinator in the cocoa sector in Latin America, based in Nicaragua, with extensive experience in the development of sustainable chains and the application of methodologies and tools for inclusive business models in the sector, explains the opportunities for private companies to implement SAF´s systems. And how in Central America, after two category 5 and 6 hurricanes and a sanitary crisis, the implementation of SAF´s became a barrier not only against the wind but also against the loss of income and food for cocoa producers in Honduras.

Main takeaways

  • In agroforestry systems (SAF), cocoa farmers intentionally combine cocoa trees with fruit and timber crops. In such systems, the crops physically protect the cocoa trees and increase their resilience to natural disasters. At the same time, they provide economic resilience, for example, if the cocoa yields are lost within the plot, the producing families can still trade or consume the other crops that are part of the system.
  • In the last category 5 and 6 hurricanes that hit Central America in 2020, (Eta and Iota), in less than 2 weeks there were incredible losses in food production in general. Cocoa-growing families using these systems suffered fewer losses. The trees in the crops acted as wind barriers.
  • Small-scale producers with this system contribute a lot to the conservation of biodiversity. They can also connect with the provision of agroforestry services. There are many companies in the carbon sequestration market.
  • The implementation of SAF´s offers private companies the opportunity to increase their profitability along three lines: First, their crops, as well as the incomes of the producing families, are more resilient to natural and economic shocks. Second, they can commercialise the crops or products they combine with cocoa;, we have seen the combination with coconut and orange. Third, they can attract markets interested in accessing cocoa produced in a more resilient and environmentally sustainable way. Certify their production and be ready for the demand for sustainable cocoa that continues to grow.
  • Chocolats Halba (CH), a Swiss chocolate company, partner of Rikolto in Honduras and the cocoa producers' association APROSACAO in Olancho, Honduras, is a model of resilience in the face of disruption. During the Covid crisis in 2020, they managed to keep exporting cocoa from APROSACAO to Switzerland. Supermarkets and coffee shops closed, but the population kept on buying through the internet. For Luis Veléx, Manager of the company in Honduras, Covid was not as critical a problem as climate change.
  • The major environmental problem faced by cocoa farmers is the increase in pests and diseases due to variations in temperature or rainfall patterns.
  • In the relationship between CH and APROSACAO, Rikolto is providing support for the business relationship. The company provides technical assistance for the implementation of the systems. In addition, Rikolto provides advice on the commercial relationship between the two, to ensure that there is transparency in the business process, that the association of producers continues to improve its governance and bargaining position, and especially that the benefits of this business, not only are perceived by CH, and the staff who runs the association, but it also reach each of the producer members of APROSACAO. Learn more about this collaboration here!
  • To consumers, we invite you to try this chocolate produced under Agroforestry Systems, since this way you are contributing to a better world.
Inclusive Chocolate

Inclusive Chocolate

Chocolats Halba is a partner of Rikolto and Helvetas Honduras in an initiative to strengthen the Quality Cocoa Value Chain in the Department of Olancho, funded by the EU. The aim is to improve the business performance of cocoa association APROSACAO by applying tools such as the LINK methodology to assess how aspects of communication, policies, pricing, contracts and innovation among others, are benefiting both parties, both the Swiss company and the 441 small cocoa farmers who are members of APROSACAO.

Learn more about the topic here!