"The Vision for Change project being brought to life in Cote d'Ivoire by ICRAF is a long-term collaboration with national institutions, industry peers and others that will apply research and technology transfer to increase yields for cocoa farmers. The program's true strength, however, is its scalability. Though this initial pilot will reach only 150,000 farmers, we believe that effective collaboration could allow the project to expand to millions of farmers across West Africa," says Josef Toledano, Mars' Director of West African Cocoa Sustainability.
A growing global population means that there is little new land to create new cocoa farms and therefore the increase in production has to come from the rehabilitation of existing cocoa farms. In 2010 alone, Cte d'Ivoire exported $2.4 billion worth of cocoa beans.
Simons sees agroforestry as a key to how the world will be fed in a changing climate, especially in developing countries. The Vision for Change project, which was piloted in Indonesia, has seen success in Papau New Guinea and has over the last three years seen growth in Cte d'Ivoire.
"Agroforestry is the cornerstone to improved livelihoods of smallholder farmers. Farming methods that incorporate trees provide a variety of products, from alternative sources of food to medicine to timber. With our current unpredictable climatic conditions trees on farms will protect and feed us," says Simons.
In a country that produced 1.4 million tonnes of cocoa in 2011, such a partnership will result in a profitable cocoa economy and improved livelihoods for the local communities. By 2020 the project in Cte d'Ivoire will be working with 150,000 farmers while the one in Indonesia currently incorporates over 40,000 farmers.
|Contact: Wambui Kamiru|
World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)