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Cocoa production has been the main driver of deforestation in CDI, with cocoa farms emerging from forest land. This has created severe environmental and also production challenges. The cocoa is grown in “full sun” and is shorter lived than shaded cocoa; the land degrades, necessitating the farmers to move further into the remaining forest in search of fertile soil. Today, however, the government and cocoa industry recognize the critical value of reversing this situation. Bringing trees back onto cocoa farms has become a high priority, with the caveat that the species planted need to be compatible with cocoa and not a host for disease.
Restoring cocoa regions to better ecological health has become an imperative recognized by the government, international agencies and private companies operating in CDI. In a particularly significant move, after some years of uncertainty, in 2019 the government’s Conseil du Café-Cacao (CCC) emerged to definitively support cocoa agroforestry in CDI.