Planting the seeds of resilience: How agroforestry is redefining cocoa farming in Central Africa

By Climate Champions | July 13, 2023

This article is derived from a case study from The Climakers Stories from the Field – Africa special edition

Partner: The Climakers

Implementer: CNOP-CAF (Concertation Nationale des Organisations Paysannes de Centrafrique)

Country: Central Africa Republic

Impact System: Food and Agriculture

In the heart of Africa, where the resilience of people and nature is constantly tested by climate change, a new era of sustainable farming is dawning. The Central African Republic, a region bearing the brunt of rising temperatures, unpredictable rains, and the extremes of flood and drought, is witnessing a transformative shift in agricultural practices. The secret? Agroforestry.

Farmers in this region, toughened by the harsh realities of their environment, have pioneered the landscape-level adoption of agroforestry techniques. Combining their deep-rooted knowledge with new, sustainable methodologies, they’re promoting robust agricultural practices, introducing more trees, and advocating for sustainable certifications.

A notable outcome of this transformation is visible in cocoa production. Traditional cocoa farming, often associated with deforestation and forest degradation, is being reshaped by agroforestry. This approach has increased cocoa production while promoting forest restoration, a notable win-win for both farmers and the environment.

Agroforestry, however, isn’t just a farming practice; it’s an ethos that combines respect for nature with agricultural productivity. It encourages sustainable land use, forest conservation, and even the restoration of natural landscapes previously scarred by intensive cocoa production.

In this broader context, agroforestry becomes a cornerstone of environmental sustainability and resilience. It allows farmers to diversify their yield, integrating other products such as food crops, non-timber forest products, and timber. The outcome is a rich, resilient agricultural system that not only provides livelihoods but also offers environmental benefits like habitats for pollinators, improved soil quality, and effective pest control.

The agroforestry transformation is already yielding impressive results. For instance, more than 100 hectares have been cultivated following these sustainable guidelines, offering myriad ecological benefits, including carbon sequestration, soil moisture preservation, and pest control.

The adoption of agroforestry also has a social dimension, catalyzing a diversification in farm production systems. This creates opportunities for farmers to develop their own businesses and encourages sustainable local economies where agricultural products can be recycled within the system.

To ensure the ongoing success of these practices, the local community recognizes the importance of education. By blending traditional wisdom with scientific knowledge, they’re fostering a culture of sustainability and resilience. These educational initiatives provide a platform for sharing experiences, sparking conversations that can lead to new, sustainable solutions.

What’s more, agroforestry practices also offer a pathway towards mitigating climate change. By minimizing greenhouse gas emissions from cocoa and livestock management, they help reduce the carbon footprint of local produce. Meanwhile, the trees integral to agroforestry capture carbon, acting as a natural climate regulator.

The story unfolding in the Central African Republic shows us the immense potential of agroforestry. It demonstrates how, with innovation and resilience, communities can adapt to climate change while fostering a sustainable and ecologically harmonious future.

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