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Dehoun Sandoni is a mother of 11 children, six of whom are in school. She is a cocoa farmer’s wife, and her husband is a member of the SOCOOPADO cooperative located in Dokpodon, near Grand Lahou, about 120 kms (73 miles) west of Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.
“Life is not easy for farmers and especially for farmers’ wives. Indeed, after we sell our cocoa, my household has had difficulties in meeting expenses, both for food, schooling for my children and for my personal needs. We usually go into debt during the period between harvests, then pay off debts incurred during the cocoa selling period, and then the cycle of debts starts again,” she explains.
The first time Dehoun Sandoni heard about the agroforestry project, part of the Cocoa & Forests Initiative to end cocoa-related deforestation, was during an awareness campaign in February 2021. This project seeks to support women to replant cocoa farms destroyed by a cocoa virus and to restore degraded lands through the adoption of agroforestry systems. This strengthens the resilience of the women and their families to climate change.
The village women were convinced by the proposal and so decided to join forces to have plots of land to join the project. Dehoun Sandoni received maize, beans and groundnut seeds at the beginning of the rainy season. She used these initial inputs to set up her plot, and subsequently received banana shoots, coffee plants, and citrus trees.
“My husband even helped me sometimes in these activities”, she says. The harvest was 700 kg (1543 lbs) for maize in August 2021. “But with the beans and groundnuts we had difficulties due to poor seed quality and heavy rains that destroyed the bean shoots. The harvest was used for our own consumption, allowing us to better manage the lean season”, explains Dehoun Sandoni. “As for the fruit and agroforestry plants, they will take several years to produce fruit, but I am happy that this project has been set up within SOCOOPADO and that we have been able to solve our food problem. For the next season, I plan to sell a part of the production to cover expenses, such as those for the children’s schooling, and to support my husband.”