Agroforestry for Chocolate Bars: 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 crops and trees are planted in the same area of land. A mix of agriculture and trees! This natural management system is great for making the most of the land available to us. That means no chopping down of the precious rainforest that surrounds the crops we grow for our chocolate bars.

This method is great when used 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 that the cacao farms that produce these sweet treats and the cacao farming process are big drivers of deforestation in South America? Cacao farming is not only accelerating the decline of tree cover across the world but it is driving soil degradation and biodiversity loss. This happens when nutrients within soils are stripped from the ground when the land is used 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 are not necessary, so less deforestation takes 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!

Trees can also become important habitats and homes for wildlife to thrive. This can be a massive help to farmers, as in having trees present, they can by house natural predators that can combat common crop pests. This means that there is little to no need for pesticides. Even better!

Agroforestry is a way of strengthening resilience within regions that produce Peruvian cacao. It also aids the restoration and regeneration of land that has been degraded via previous cultivation and production methods. If agroforestry can replace monoculture, cacao farms will have less of a negative impact on the surrounding environment. It will instead have a positive effect on much of the wildlife in the areas where it is implemented. A much better outcome.

Agroforestry doesn’t just benefit the environment, it benefits those who live in it too! It can help the whole rural economy, this in turn creates more stable farms and a better quality of life within 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 being one of the main driving forces behind deforestation in South America, all of us at Mr Popple’s think it is important to highlight and invest in ways that can help.

In Peru, cacao is in the top 6 for the rankings for the most important Peruvian grown crops, it provides a great deal of economic income for it’s inhabitants. Over 138.000 farmers are involved in Peruvian cacao production. This means that a lot of farming takes place in order to meet the demand for cacao. A lot of deforestation occurs so that cacao can be grown and an income can be made from its production. That is why implementing methods such as agroforestry can be a really great way to stop the destruction of rainforests, as well as providing much needed security and stability for cacao farmers.

The use of agroforestry on cacao farms is one of the ways in which we can help to curb a lot of the deforestation we see happening around the world. 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. 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 that they can reduce the effects of climate change. If the land is destroyed, we all suffer, not just mother nature. We think that a world without chocolate would be awful, but a world destroyed by deforestation and climate change is even scarier!

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 the countries where cocoa is being produced. In doing this, the farmers can make a good profit margin from using agroforestry techniques.

All of us at Mr Popple’s Chocolate are big believers in agroforestry, after learning a little bit more about it, we hope that you will be too!

Explore our range of ethically conscious and fairly traded chocolate bars at mrpoppleschocolate.co.uk