Rationale Cacao farmers have been switching to other crops and livelihood activities in response to systemic issues such as aging cacao trees, falling yields, quality and profits due to damage from pests and diseases. From the Mondelēz perspective, access to high-quality, and reliable cocoa volumes is critical to ensure supply to meet future demand.
In addition to the sustainable supply of cacao, issues related to pressures on forests dominate the agroforestry sector. Because shade-loving trees such as cacao prefer to grow in the understory and require high humidity environments, cacao farms are often situated along the periphery of forests where soil moisture is high and the taller forest trees provide a suitable ecosystem. Cacao farmers have the opportunity to create a symbiotic and protective relationship with the forests, though they often end up adding to the pressure on forests when they migrate their farms to more fertile and humid lands – often where either primary or even degraded forests lie. These pressures are particularly serious in high biodiversity regions of South Sumatra.
Deforestation is not only at risk of increasing with progressive climate change, but is itself one of the major causes of the climate change. Thus any attempts to address climate change from a cacao perspective should engage farmers in reducing greenhouse gas emissions as well as preserving carbon stocks in the forest and on farms. Fortunately, cacao is a crop for which climate-friendly production practices are also compatible with yield increase.
Cacao production puts pressures on the planet in other ways as well. Cacao farms and the cacao production process consumes fertilizers and some post-production processes generate significant methane emissions. In addition to production emissions, rural communities in cacao producing areas generate greenhouse gas emissions through energy consumption. By pursuing a holistic sustainability strategy in cacao producing communities, the project proposes to demonstrate that environmental benefits as well as financial savings are possible through use of alternate cooking fuels such as biogas (produced from crop residues and/or integrated animal husbandry) and other renewable energy sources.