By Adeline Dontenville, Land-use and Finance Expert, EU REDD Facility, European Forest Institute
When you buy a chocolate bar, it’s quite likely that the cocoa in it came from Côte d’Ivoire, the world’s top producer. If so, it is almost certain that the cocoa plants were grown where dense rainforest once stood.
Expansion of cocoa production into new areas is amongst the main drivers of deforestation in Côte d’Ivoire. At current rates, the country will lose all its forest cover by 2034. Decoupling cocoa production from deforestation is therefore crucial if Côte d’Ivoire is to achieve its goals of producing zero-deforestation cocoa and restoring forest cover to 20% of its territory by 2030.
One solution for the Ivoirian government is agroforestry, a type of land management in which farmers grow not only crops but also a variety of trees for multiple purposes, like firewood, fruit and timber. It’s a way to produce cocoa while restoring forest cover, improving soil fertility and diversifying the income of producers.
But how can Côte d’Ivoire’s smallholders invest in agroforestry when they live below the poverty line and have limited access to finance? And how can large chocolate manufacturers that buy cocoa from smallholders help?