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Reverse deforestation

Fédéric Asseu is a cocoa farmer who lives with his wife and family in Diangobo, Comoe, Côte d'Ivoire.

Like many cocoa-production regions, Fédéric’s home and job is vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Nearby regions have seen record droughts and declining soil fertility, causing poor cocoa harvests and low profits for farmers. Fédéric sells the cocoa beans he grows through a local cooperative. This year, his cooperative is participating in a medium-density agroforestry program. The program aims to promote good environmental practices by restoring forests, conserving natural resources, and developing agroforestry models that support diverse farmer incomes. Agroforestry not only helps restore nature, but it also supports farmers increase their resilience to climate change through making soils healthier, keeping water in the ground, and strengthening cocoa trees health against pests and diseases.

The cooperative program works to help strengthen farmers’ fight against climate change by providing agroforestry training sessions, preparing shade tree nursery sites, and monitoring agroforestry plots. Fédéric decided to take part in the program, becoming one of the 1,555 farmers who have planted over 50,000 diverse tree species on their farms. “The trees will allow for good farm development and help fight against soil erosion” says Fédéric, after participating in the training. These trees provide shade and help generate additional income through fruit and timber production. Another benefit is that planting additional trees means sequestering more carbon, helping to take more CO2 out of the atmosphere.

Fédéric recognizes that this project is beneficial beyond increasing production, stating that “it is useful to slow the effects of climate change.” For Fédéric, agroforestry will allow him to increase the resilience of his cocoa farm and help capture more carbon on his farm. According to Fédéric, the project is very welcome and should continue and expand over time. Fédéric has learned so much during the Farmer Field School sessions organized through the program that he now talks about the benefits of agroforestry to everyone around him: “I told other farmers that this project will allow them to increase production.” He does so to encourage others to join the effort and move forward.

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