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The influence of the structure of cocoa-based agroforestry systems on productivity in Talamanca, Costa Rica

Deheuvels O., Avelino J., Somarriba Chavez E., Malézieux E.. 2010. In : Wery Jacques (ed.), Shili-Touzi I. (ed.), Perrin A. (ed.). Proceedings of Agro 2010 : the XIth ESA Congress, August 29th - September 3rd, 2010, Montpellier, France. Montpellier : Agropolis international, p. 269-270. ESA Congress. 11, 2010-08-29/2010-09-03, Montpellier (France).

With a sustained increase in world chocolate consumption of 2-3% per year, and growing human populations in many of the cocoa producing regions, pressures to intensify cocoa production are likely to increase (6). Shaded crops, such as cocoa (Theobroma cacao), are undertaken by smallholders in 50 countries of the humid tropics of Asia, Africa, Central and South America (3 & 5). In most cocoa producing countries, cocoa and associated productions are the main source of income for local indigenous and poor communities (2). In these countries and especially in tropical America, a significant amount of the agricultural landscape is managed as agroforestry systems, with diverse structural and compositional complexity. In central America, indigenous farmers cultivate cocoa in agroforestry systems, which are today considered as an alternative paradigm for rural development (4). There, the great majority of the authors show that shade trees are associated with traditional cacao varieties and low levels of chemical inputs. Bentley & al. (1) showed that farmers stress the importance of shade for managing soil moisture and soil fertility, and for managing some weeds and diseases. Most of the shade trees are not wild forest trees, but have been planted and protected by the farm families. Many other trees are intercropped with cacao for economic reasons, not related to shade. This paper is one of the few attempts published in the last five years (7) to assess the botanical and structural diversity of these cocoa agroforests and to test their implication on cocoa production.

Mots-clés : theobroma cacao; agroforesterie; costa rica

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