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Agroforestry: Be kind to the planet!

At Mr Popple’s Chocolate, we are big believers in being kind to Mother Nature. And agroforestry is an agricultural system that we use and support wholeheartedly!

The Basics:

Agroforestry, to put it simply, is where both crops and trees are planted in the same area of land. This natural management system is great for making the most of the land available to us! That means no chopping down the precious rainforest that surrounds the crops we grow for our chocolate bars.

This method is made up of trees on farms and in agricultural landscapes. As well as farming in and around forests, agroforestry is included within the cocoa, coffee, rubber and oil palm industries.

Agroforestry techniques are designed to supply tree and crop products, whilst also protecting, conserving, diversifying and sustaining important natural resources.

Why it’s a GREAT idea:

Why is agroforestry important you may ask. Well it may be a given that we all love chocolate, but did you know cacao farming to produce these sweet treats is one of the biggest drivers of deforestation in South America? Cacao farming is not only accelerating the decline of tree cover across the world but driving soil degradation and biodiversity loss as a result of monocultures where land is stripped solely for cacao farming.

Not only is agroforestry a better option ethically and environmentally, it rebuilds soil fertility, ensuring that the land can be used again and again. This means that new habitats and land is not necessary, so less deforestation will take place.In using agroforestry as opposed to the management of one single crop (monoculture), it can lead to reduced insect pests and associated diseases.

The integration of trees and crops can provide much needed shelter for nearby livestock in the hot summer climates. Who wants to be hot and bothered in the height of summer? Not us!

Agroforestry doesn’t just benefit the environment, it benefits those who live on it too! It can help the whole rural economy, this in turn creates more stable farms and communities. Risks to farmer’s incomes are reduced when land management strategies produce more than one product. This means that farmers have more stability and less threat to their livelihoods. A win-win all around!

Agroforestry & Chocolate:

With the production of cacao contributing heavily to deforestation to South America, all of us at Mr Popple’s think it is important to highlight and invest in ways to help. Agroforestry is sustainable and efficient, it makes perfect sense economically and environmentally! As a conscientious company, we just don’t think that chocolate should cost us the Earth.

The world’s chocolate demand is predicted to grow by nearly 14.5 billion pounds in the next five years. In order to meet the increasing demand for chocolate, rainforests and gorgeous forestland are being cleared to make room for single crop cacao farms (monoculture). In 2017, The Guardian  newspaper revealed that 80% of rainforest cover in Côte d’Ivoire  has disappeared. And unfortunately, this is mainly due to cacao farming.

Agroforestry and its practice goes back many hundreds of years in much of Central and South America. Thankfully, it is now making a comeback in cacao farming. This is because the cacao farmers are further acknowledging that they have to protect their land so they can reduce the effects of climate change.

Agroforestry is not only handy for long-term protection of the environment and farmer’s pockets!  It’s also a way that farmers can create a range of ways to generate their income.

Some farmers are super savvy with their space. By planting shade trees next to their crops, the same plot of land can be used for both plants. This is handy as it means that the farmers are able to produce more than one thing from the same soil, increasing their range of produce. Smart cocoa farmers use bananas and plantains as ‘shade crops’. This is because these crops are more likely to be consumed in countries where cocoa is being produced. This in turn means that the farmers can make a good profit margin from using agroforestry techniques!

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