The cacao industry is sadly linked with deforestation. Farmers often slash rainforests to grow plots of new trees. When native rainforests are cut down, the majority of nutrients are lost, because they’re largely above ground, in the trees. When a forest’s growth and decomposition cycle is halted, the devastating cycle of deforestation and abandonment takes its place.
But there’s a better way to cultivate cacao – syntropic agroforestry.
Agroforestry is simply farming with trees. Syntropic agroforestry uses all four rainforest layers to produce crops that yield economic and ecological value. The forest floor, understory, canopy, and the emergent layer all work together.
Syntropic agroforestry is the most productive and sustainable form of agriculture for the humid tropics. Nutrients are recycled. Biodiversity is preserved. The landscape becomes resilient against climate change.
Farmers reap the benefits too. When growers regenerate degraded land and replicate a natural forest, they’re no longer dependent on a monocrop model. Producers can increase revenue by growing and selling multiple types of crops in a harmonious ecosystem, all without needing to clear-cut trees.
That’s why at Scharffen Berger we’re pioneering a new path for the chocolate industry. We work with Henrique Souza, the owner of Fazenda Ouro Fino, a 30-hectare farm in Jaguaquara, Bahia, Brazil. A renowned consultant, Henrique has converted degraded pasture into the productive rainforest farm where he and his wife Rosa live self-sufficiently. Their diversified income comes from cacao, cupuaçu, açaí, wild honey, dried fruits, pupinha flour, seeds, and plant seedlings. This is syntropic agroforestry model.
We’re partnering with Henrique to bring syntropic agroforestry to more cacao producers in Brazil, and beyond. Through local workshops, intensive training, and sponsor seminars, our goal is to empower more farmers, expand the syntropic agroforestry network and production capabilities, and protect vulnerable rainforest land.
At Scharffen Berger we’re leading the way to make the chocolate industry truly sustainable.