Agnès N’goran Adjoua is a cocoa farmer in the department of Soubré in the Nawa region of Côte d’Ivoire. She lives in Yabayo, one of her cooperative’s communities, and owns a cocoa farm of 3.32 hectares. “We are aware that a lot of the forest in the Soubré area has been lost over the past years, but it’s good to see the support that is being provided to bring the forest back and to understand how we can contribute as cocoa farmers”, explains Agnès.
Agnès was one of the farmers in her cooperative who received forest tree seedlings from a Cocoa & Forests Initiative company. She planted them all during the main rainy season and is proud of her achievement: “Besides reforestation measures, it is important to maintain the remaining forest by applying good agricultural practices and planting shade trees on our farms.”
Farmers in the West African cocoa belt are faced with increasing droughts undermining cocoa yields. Soils are rapidly depleting due to erosion and the lack of organic matter in the soil. To tackle these issues, Cocoa & Forests Initiative companies have been running trainings to help farmers gain a deeper understanding of the importance of forest trees for their farms and implement tailored agroforestry. For this, farmers are provided timber or fruit tree seedlings. “In the farmer field schools, we learned that the association of shade trees with the cocoa tree enables the cocoa trees to produce for a long time by protecting them from the sun. That’s why I decided to plant shade trees”, said Agnès. “I would like to thank the companies that supported our cooperative for their advice, and I encourage all my fellow farmers to do the same.”
Aside from protecting cocoa trees from harsh sunlight, improving soil quality and mitigating the effects of droughts, these agroforestry models also increase food security for communities – for example from fruit trees – and provide a source of additional income, as some of the hardwood trees can later be used for timber, with ongoing reforestation taking place so that forest cover is maintained.