Diagone remembers that when he was younger, there were many large trees on the plantation where his family farmed cocoa.
“We had good yields,” he said. “But today I have noticed that with the felling of these large trees, production has decreased.”
He is hoping to change this by participating in an agroforestry program through his local cooperative. Located near the classified forest “Téné” in Ivory Coast, his cooperative is known as “EDIFIE.” More than 200 farmers from EDIFIE have participated in the agroforestry program. They are planting trees, starting nurseries, and raising awareness about deforestation.
Like many others in Côte d’Ivoire, these farmers rely on cocoa as their main source of income. Deforestation, drought, and decreased yields have created challenges and uncertainty. The agroforestry program aims to help by improving cocoa yields and introducing additional ways for farmers to make money, such as beekeeping.
“I decided to join the project because today there is no more forest,” said a farmer named Oulekpo. “It’s important to restore the forest to cope with climate change and that’s why I’m involved in agroforestry and beekeeping.”
With more than 21,000 trees distributed, the cooperative has helped plant more than 171 hectares with eight species of cocoa-friendly trees. Participating farmers are motivated to expand these efforts and persuade others to join.
“I would tell my brothers and sisters to replant the woods because it can help future generations,” said Oulekpo.
Another farmer named Sope is inspired by the healthy forests he has seen and his own memories.
“When I see the damaged trees, it makes me sad,” he said. “Before, there were big trees on the plantation, and it enabled us to resist drought — that’s what motivates me the most. We have to encourage others to join the project.”