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Agroforestry is emerging as a solution that can contribute to the sustainability of the cocoa sector and help restore Ivorian forest cover.

Agroforestry is a major activity promoted by the Cocoa & Forests Initiative’s (CFI’s) Joint Framework for Action, a commitment signed in November 2017 by the Government of Côte d’Ivoire and companies from the cocoa and chocolate sector, which stipulates that ‘the Government will develop sustainable agroforestry models, in consultation with all stakeholders.’

As IDH, The Sustainable Trade Initiative noted recently, a thematic group on ‘Agroforestry and sustainable production’ was set up with the objective of identifying good practices and operational guidelines for mixed agroforestry systems that can be easily scaled up.

Although stakeholders are unanimous on the opportunities related to agroforestry, some constraints remain, such as access to forest tree seeds and/or seedlings; the economic and financial viability of agroforestry systems; coordination of initiatives in the field; land tenure security; tree ownership; and the dissemination of agroforestry techniques.

To address these challenges, the Conseil du Café-Cacao (CCC) – the regulatory body for the coffee-cocoa sector in Côte d’Ivoire – has committed itself to coordinating all initiatives aimed at promoting agroforestry in the cocoa sector.

To this end, several actions have already been initiated, including the organization of a national workshop to review agroforestry techniques on 28-30 November 2018. This workshop helped progress on the following points:

  • Stakeholders agreed on the categories of existing practices in agroforestry.
  • Common norms and standards, which were not known to all parties, were identified and validated.

Following this workshop, in early 2019 the CCC developed a guidance note for the implementation of projects to promote agroforestry techniques.

This note provides guidance on the cultivation techniques to be promoted in order to maintain sustainable ecological conditions for coffee and cocoa production. It also invites stakeholders to inform the CCC before starting a new agroforestry-related activity.

Following this note, the next steps will include:

  • Implementation of a national pilot project to promote agroforestry in cocoa farming. This pilot project initiated by the CCC will be implemented in collaboration with the competent national structures in charge of forests (MINEF), capacity building (ANADER) and research (CNRA).
  • Raising awareness among stakeholders on official guidelines. The CCC will thus follow up with partners to ensure that the recommendations are properly received and understood.
  • Training and awareness-raising of rural stakeholders, particularly cocoa-producing communities, on the importance of agroforestry in cocoa farming.

In addition, cocoa companies committed, in their initial action plans published in early March 2019, to support the distribution and planting of multipurpose trees or indigenous trees to be planted on and off cocoa plantations, with a target of 244,400 hectares of cocoa agroforestry and 13 millions of multipurpose trees to be distributed in farms; and this, in close collaboration with the CCC.

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