Drissa Konaté settled in Soubré, one of the major cocoa production areas in Côte d’Ivoire, in the early nineties. “My 5-hectare cocoa farm is 19 years-old and used to produce 3.5 mt. However, after a period of high yields, my farm no longer met my expectations and production had dropped down to 0.8 mt,” he says. “There were no trees on my farm to provide shade to my cocoa, so the sun had been stressing all my cocoa trees. Also was I not aware of the benefits of pruning so I didn’t want to do it at first. All my ongoing projects and those I had planned were not successful, so I became unhappy.”

Faced with this situation, the cocoa farmer joined a cocoa company sustainability program, part of the Cocoa & Forests Initiative to end deforestation, and was coached on good agricultural practices. He learned about pruning and requested the services of the pruning team available in his community. “At the same time, I received more than 45 shade tree seedlings that I planted successfully on my farm,” he explains.

All these activities carried out on my farm in recent years have led to increased cocoa production,” shares Drissa Konaté. “After two years and a small amount of fertilizer application I now harvest up to 2.1 mt again. These higher yields have allowed me to quickly finish building my house in Soubré and also to start a new house construction in the village. I was able to pay for my two boys’ school tuition easily in 2022, contrary to the previous years where one of them couldn’t complete his academic year due to lack of funds to pay for his school.”

The cocoa farmer is now an advocate for sustainability practices: “I hope the program will provide me with enough tree seedlings to cover my entire farm. And I encourage all my fellow farmers, whether they are in a sustainability program or not, to adopt good agricultural practices, utilize pruning services and also plant trees in their farm, as well as participate in coaching activities.”