When asked about his participation to a project led by the agroforestry expert organization PUR Projet and his cooperative, Kouame, 54, explains: “thanks to the workshops, I have discovered the principles of agroforestry and have learned new techniques on planting, monitoring and reporting.”
Agroforestry improves soil fertility, biodiversity, and microclimates, stabilizes cocoa yields and advances farmer income. It is a key strategy of the Cocoa & Forests Initiative to address deforestation and improve the livelihoods of smallholder cocoa farmers. Since 2021, as part of a cocoa company’s three-year mission to plant 60,000 forest trees with 600 farmers, Kouame’s cooperative implements high-density agroforestry (around 100 trees a hectare) and raises awareness on deforestation.
PUR Projet uses a hands-on approach and organized workshops led by technicians to sensitize the community on the benefits of forest conservation and to foster local expertise. In Kouame’s community, technicians selected areas to be re-forested and allocated appropriate tree species. They then assisted 129 farmers directly on their farms with the planting phase, helping them put their newly learned skills into action. 20,918 trees were planted in total, with high plant diversification. “We planted seven different tree species: fraké, framiné, gliricidia, akpi, oranger, kplé, petit colas,” explains Kouame. PUR also monitors tree survival and mortality by visiting the community after planting.
Alongside the hands-on training, farmers have been offered Payments for Environmental Services (PES) to motivate them to achieve high tree survival rates. This has helped to engage farmers in plant monitoring and sustainable cocoa cultivation. Last year, 212 farmers who participated in PUR Projet’s 2019-2020 planting season received their first PES.
Kouame also and said: “This project has been very important to me, it has allowed me to serve my environment, and to pass on everything I have learned to my family”.