Agroforestry cacao

It starts with the soil

Let us take you on a little journey into the jungle to cacao farms and origins.

A cacao drink or chocolate bar does not start with the beans, but already with the soil and the environment where the cacao grows. The agro-industry has transformed most of our food production to large monoculture farms. Productive in a short time and easy to harvest, but not the most healthy for natural ecosystems and us.

Farmers need to generate an income from their land and therefore want to increase productivity. Cacao is not a quick return on investment as a tree starts giving cacao fruit after 4 or 5 years. But a beautiful long term investment as it keeps fruiting for another 40 or more years in the future. Especially valuable to intercrop with other plants like cardamom, banana, allspice, legumes and a variety of fruits.

 
Many different crops at an agroforestry cacao farm.

Many different crops at an agroforestry cacao farm.

 

Cacao in its natural environment

Naturally, cacao is a shadow tree. It thrives in hot humid climates (so not in the Netherlands unfortunately :p) and in the shade of larger trees. This is ideal because within a forest you can grow a cacao farm. Often existing forests are cut down to build farms which is very destructive for ecosystems and biodiversity. Wild cacao grows naturally in the jungle and is our best example to learn from.

 
Fruit forest from above

Fruit forest from above

 

Agroforestry

Agroforestry is a farming principle that uses natural ecosystems as an example to increase the quality and production, like permaculture. Instead of using fertilizer and pesticides it strives for a natural balance, healthy soil and organic farming.

In a nutshell agroforestry can:

  • support biodiversity and complex ecosystems

  • improve soil and plant health

  • increase production in a natural way

  • increase nutrient uptake by plants

  • yield from different crops instead of depending on one crop

  • naturally protect crops instead of using fertilizer

  • create long time value by diversity and increased production

When we visit cacao farms we look at the natural surroundings and all the life that thrives there. For example many different bird species is a nice indicator for high biodiversity and fun to see who can spot the most. But also the soil, plant variety and how the land is farmed are very important.

 
This cacao tree might be caught up a bit too much in the jungle around :-).

This cacao tree might be caught up a bit too much in the jungle around :-).

 

Increase nature with healthy products

By selecting high quality cacao we also want to make a positive impact on nature. We want to support agroforestry farms to inspire other farmers and show how we can grow our food organically. In our opinion the best quality and powerful cacao is grown in natural ways in a healthy environment. Transparency is important to tell the whole story, know where and how your food is grown and to be able to connect with people who share this vision.

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