For decades, cacao plantations were driven by the idea that monoculture, full sunshine, heaps of fertilizer and chemicals would pump up the productivity and bring guaranteed unprecedented wealth to farmers.
Considering the situation today, this has not been a very efficient approach to improve the livelihoods of the targeted cocoa farmers, let alone their families and communities.
Even from agronomic perspective cacao plantations need something quite different.
To obtain a healthy, well-nourished, and productive cocoa trees, you need healthy, well-nourished, resilient, and strong farmers first. (hence FarmStrong!)
It is of course imperative to understand the needs and complex ecology of the cacao plant, for sure, no doubt, but better start with understanding the complexity around cocoa farmers, farmers’ families, and farmers’ communities.
FarmStrong Foundation guides the farmers to the appropriate agriculture practices through training on agroforestry, shade management, correct manual husbandry (pruning), soil health, prevention of erosion, among other techniques.
We start however by making sure the farmers are in good shape, well-trained on their and their family’s health, hygienic and nutritional conditions.
Only then they will be able to reach the most profitable economic production potential of their crop. Which by the way does not necessarily mean highest possible productivity as that tends to come at a very high cost and very high level of efforts.
The de-bottle-necking starts with the people once that is clear the other issues agronomic, social-economic or environmental, will be looked at from a different angle.