In Bolivia, the project is focussed on cocoa (Theobroma cacao) as the main crop in the long-term trial and for participatory on-farm research activities. Apart from the comparison of organic and conventional management, the project especially assesses the performance of diverse cocoa agroforestry systems in comparison to cocoa monocultures. A second focal point is the analysis of different cocoa cultivars. We also aim to improve the agroforestry systems under organic management through a participatory approach and socio economic studies.
Cocoa originates from the amazon region where it grows in the lower strata of primary alluvial forests. In Latin America, cocoa is traditionally produced in shaded agroforestry systems together with a variety of other crops and fruit or timber trees. To increase cocoa yields however, in the main cocoa producing regions worldwide, cocoa is increasingly produced in monocultures to increase cocoa yield in the short-term. However, cocoa based agroforestry systems produce other products and public goods, and are, therefore, seen as a sustainable alternative to monocultures.
Bolivia is not a big producer of cocoa on the world market but has a long tradition of organic cocoa production. About 2’000 farmers produce cocoa in the region of Alto Beni. More than 1’200 cocoa farmers are organised in cooperatives and these cooperatives adhere to the umbrella organisation El Ceibo. El Ceibo, the farmers, own the whole value chain up to final chocolate bars for local and export market. El Ceibo was the first producer of organic certified cocoa and promotes organic cocoa agroforestry systems.