Cocoa agroforestry systems vs. monocultures under conventional and organic management – results from tropical Bolivia

Cocoa agroforestry systems vs. monocultures under conventional and organic management - results from tropical Bolivia

wca2014-2201 Christian Andres 1,*Joachim Milz 2Renate Seidel 3German Trujillo 2Freddy Alcon 2Franco Weibel 1Monika Schneider 1 1Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), Frick, Switzerland, 2Ecotop Consult, 3Institute of Ecology, University Mayor San Andres, La Paz, Bolivia, Plurinational State Of

Cocoa is one of the most important export commodities for many developing countries and provides income for millions of smallholders. The expansion of cocoa production has resulted in habitat destruction, biodiversity loss, and soil degradation. The prevalent cocoa production systems worldwide are conventional monoculture full sun systems. Agroforestry systems are argued to be a viable strategy for sustainable cocoa production. However, data-based information on advantages and limitations of different cocoa production systems is limited. Pairwise comparisons on the long-term performance of cocoa monocultures and agroforestry systems under conventional and organic management are inexistent.

FiBL is pioneering to fill this knowledge gap with a unique long-term field trial in tropical Bolivia established in 2008. The trial consists of six treatments: two monocultures (MONO CONV/ORG) and two agroforestry system (AF CONV/ORG) under conventional and organic management, one organic successional agroforestry system (SAFS) with dynamic shade management, and a fallow of the same age serving as a reference for biodiversity and soil fertility studies. The treatments are representative for current cocoa production systems of smallholders. Parameters regularly assessed include canopy openness, cocoa stem diameter and bean yield, pests and diseases, soil fertility, carbon stocks, economic data and biodiversity.

Five years after planting, results showed significantly shorter tree circumference (18% and 33%) in AF systems and SAFS, respectively, compared to MONO systems. Tree circumference correlated strongly with cocoa bean yield, and highest bean yields were recorded in MONO CONV as expected. Additional products like banana/plantain, cassava, pineapple, etc. were harvested in AF systems and SAFS, which may compensate for lower cocoa yield in the first years.  First results indicate that disease incidences were higher in MONO systems compared to AF and SAFS.

Vigyan Bhavan & Kempinski Ambience

10 - 14 February 2014 Delhi, India