Philip Betts

Philip Betts

Philip Betts


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Cocoa and Biodiversity inNorth Kivu, DR Congo<strong>Philip</strong> <strong>Betts</strong>

DR CongoEsco Kivu cocoa operations

Coffee production at 25,000t/year during 1980’s, but1990’s brought about a collapse due to:• Coffee wilt disease• Steep decline of international coffee market• Rwanda genocide and on going power struggle in Zaire

2000-2011 saw the introduction and development of a new cash crop:• Esco introduced cocoa seeds from Uganda• Cocoa prices rose through the decade• N Kivu cocoa production rose from zero to 4,000t

What are the biodiversity issues in DRC and how are we tackling them?a) Logging and timber extraction:• Demand from Kenya andUganda• Poverty and unemployment• Poor governance

) Expansion of agricultural front:• Rice planting after logging• Fertility declines fast and weed seedscome in• Farmers try cassava but obtain lowyields• Land reverts to fallow and secondaryforest as farmers move deeper

Esco’s vision: Growing cocoa in a complex agroforestry setting• Farmers are keen and willing tolearn• Regeneration of under-utilisedland and secondary forest• Enhancement of soil fertility• Prevention of erosion• Buyers love the quality andneed big volumes (not a nicheproduct)

How is the vision carried out?• Planting of temporary shade such aspapaya or bananas• Digging of holes below the soil pan• Planting fast, medium and slowgrowing shade trees. target 80trees/ha thinning to 40 trees/ha)• Planting cocoa and managing thecrop through pruning• Thinning shade trees as cocoamatures

Village Store direct purchasing:• Purchasing direct from farmers• Paying the same price to all• Giving advice direct to farmers• Advising on plant diseasesEsco Kivu cocoa depots

What are the challenges in carrying out the vision?• Not all farmers are interested in planting trees• Pressure to cut timber or make charcoal• Some farmers think the forest is endless• Tenants think the landlords will harvest the trees• Monkeys and chimpanzees can eat the cocoa• Rebels can roam in forested areas

Creating economic value out of the integration of biodiversityand environmental care in our production schemeNo ‘one size fits all’ solution. A uniqueapproach for each ecosystem.a) Depleted farmland: Low fertility,no shade. Eg: Lubero• Plant shade trees at least oneyear prior to planting cocoa.• Economic benefit of bananaswithin 6 monthsb) Depleted forest. Isolated patches offorest remaining. Eg: Hoima• Remaining trees make useful shade• Forest patches can be‘reconnected”; WWF interested• Reduced need to exploit remainingforest

c) Commerciallyexploited forest:Eg: Beni• Concession ownerunsuccessful inplanting trees• Farmers initiallyreluctant to planttrees• Farmers becameinterested in cocoaand planted• Esco has shown evenshort term benefitsof hardwood trees• Farmers now keen toobtain tree seedlings

d) Land close to park boundaries• Farmers encouraged to createagroforestry buffer• Farmers ‘ Organic/UTZ delisted’if found to encroach into park• Long term benefit of trees fortimber

e) Certifications add value:• Organic• UTZ• Fair for Life

Benefits of cocoa agro-forestry for ecosystems and biodiversity• Slows pace of forestdepletion• Enhances survival ofbirds and mammals• Maintains wildlifecorridors• Optimized productivityper ha so less landneeded• Increased soil fertility• Mitigates the effect ofclimate change• Controls erosion, andimproves the waterretention during tropicalrains.

Socio-economic benefits of cocoa agro-forestry• Improved farmer income• Stable communities• School fees and hospital bills are paid• Secondary benefits to local trade• Improved security as focus shifts fromwar to agriculture

Monitoring biodiversity benefits• Internal inspections twice per year using GPS• External inspections once per year• Counting trees limited to certain areas only• Problem of cost and benefit (no carbon credits)

Challenge of scaling up• Risk of more forest depletion• Larger volume may attract traders andmultinationals who might only be lookingfor short term profits• The Congo factor (roads, taxes, difficulty)

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