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Trade-offs between crop intensification and ecosystem services: the role of agroforestry in cocoa cultivation

Vaast P., Somarriba Chavez E.. 2014. AgroForestry Systems, 88 (6) : p. 947-956.

DOI: 10.1007/s10457-014-9762-x

Research published in this special issue on cocoa agroforestry illustrates the multifunctional role of shade trees for sustaining cocoa production and improving farmers¿ livelihoods, and addresses tradeoffs between higher cocoa yield and the provision of ecosystem services to local households and global society. Indeed, the use of diverse shade in cocoa cultivation is threatened by a new drive towards crop intensification. The removal of shade trees diminishes smallholders¿ ability to adapt to global change driven by demographic pressure, food insecurity, cocoa price volatility and climate change. Some forms of crop intensification may reduce ecological resilience of cocoa production systems, making adaptation strategies, combining shade trees with innovative management practices, essential for sustaining cocoa yield. Managing trade-offs between yield and environmental services at the cocoa plot and landscape scales requires a multi-disciplinary approach to identify key management options that goes beyond the artificially polarized debates around intensified versus traditional agroforestry practices, or more generally, land-sparing versus land-sharing strategies. The global challenge facing the cocoa sector today is how to increase cocoa production to meet growing demand, without expanding the area under cocoa. This means finding sustainable ways to maintain cocoa production within today¿s producing regions, particularly West Africa, through a series of technical innovations geared towards smallholders. Inappropriate intensification may result in heavy deforestation on new pioneer fronts, such as the Congo basin, and existing cocoa being replaced either by other agricultural commodities, or by less resilient and less environmentally friendly production practices.

Mots-clés : theobroma cacao; agroforesterie; intensification; service; Écosystème; changement climatique; plante d'ombrage; innovation; revenu; rendement des cultures; petite exploitation agricole; déboisement; atténuation des effets du changement climatique; afrique; asie; amériques; afrique occidentale; déforestation; service environnemental

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