Agroecosystem resilience and farmers' perceptions of climate change impacts on cocoa farms in Alto Beni, Bolivia


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Agroecosystem resilience and farmers' perceptions of climate change impacts on cocoa farms in Alto Beni, Bolivia
Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems
Jacobi Johanna, Schneider Monika, Bottazzi Patrick, Rist Stephan
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Cocoa based small scale agriculture is the most important source of income for most
farming families in the region of Alto Beni in the sub humid foothills of the Andes.
Cocoa is grown in cultivation systems of varying ecological complexity. Cocoa
plantations are highly susceptible to climate change impacts. Local cocoa producers
mention heat waves, droughts, floods, and plant diseases as the main impacts
affecting plants and working conditions, and they associate these impacts with global
climate change. From a sustainable regional development point of view, cocoa farms
need to become more resilient in order to cope with the climate change related effects
that are putting cocoa based livelihoods at risk. This study assesses agroecosystem
resilience under three different cocoa cultivation systems (successional agroforestry,
simple agroforestry, and common practice monocultures). In a first step, farmers'
perceptions of climate change impacts were assessed and eight indicators of
agroecological resilience were derived in a transdisciplinary process (focus groups and
workshop) based on farmers' and scientists' knowledge. These indicators (soil organic
matter, depth of Ah horizon, soil bulk density, tree species diversity, crop varieties
diversity, ant species diversity, cocoa yields, and infestation of cocoa trees with
Moniliophthora perniciosa) were then surveyed on 15 cocoa farms and compared for
the three different cultivation systems. Parts of the socioeconomic aspects of resilience
were covered by evaluating the role of cocoa cooperatives and organic certification in
transitioning to more resilient cocoa farms (interviews with 15 cocoa farmers combined
with five expert interviews). Agroecosystem resilience was higher under the two
agroforestry systems than under common practice monoculture, especially under
successional agroforestry. Both agroforestry systems achieved higher cocoa yields
than common practice monoculture due to agroforestry farmers' enhanced knowledgeregarding cocoa cultivation. Knowledge sharing was promoted by local organizations
facilitating organic certification. These organizations were thus found to enhance the
social process of farmers' integration into cooperatives and their reorientation towards
organic principles and diversified agroforestry.
Create date
03/03/2013 13:10
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20/08/2019 13:49
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