The launch ceremony of Phase 2 of the Cacao Forest project took place on 8 December 2020, hosted by the Dominican Agriculture Minister in the presence of HE the Ambassador of France. The event took place during the first Festival of Dominican Chocolate.
The first phase of the project (2017-2019), which was part of a systemic agroecological approach, involved Dominican cacao producers and technical experts in successfully creating four agroforestry cacao cultivation models. These models were applied to an experimental network of 36 parcels of cacao plantations, where they are currently being trialled under different climatic, soil and management conditions. This phase also involved conducting experiments in marketing products associated with cacao.
Phase 2 (2020-2023) intends to capitalize on the results obtained during the project’s experimental phase, with the following objectives:
- to have a positive impact on the cacao industry in the Dominican Republic;
- to confirm the reproducibility of the results obtained and apply them nationwide;
- to involve the public and private sectors jointly in constructing a realistic national cacao cultivation rehabilitation programme in the Dominican Republic appropriate to current production conditions;
- to make use of the current participatory experimental approaches so that they can inspire and have an impact on producers and research, educational and training programmes in cacao cultivation.
These innovations include promoting techniques and developing agroforestry models which are sustainable from an agronomic, economic and ecological point of view, which result in higher yields and higher-quality cacao and associated products, and which also improve producers’ quality of life. They must also demonstrate the value to other categories of producers and public decision-makers of adopting a different approach by applying the principles of agroecology to make the cacao industry in the Dominican Republic more sustainable.
Cacao Forest 2 was given the go-ahead in June 2020 after AFD (Agence Française de Développement committed five hundred thousand euros (EUR 500,000) to the project, doubling the sum contributed by the French chocolate industry (EUR 500,000).
Cacao Forest is being run jointly by CIRAD and Earthworm Foundation and implemented locally in collaboration with CEDAF (Centro para El Desarollo Agropecuario y Forestal), the Dominican NGO that is hosting the project. The main Dominican partners representing cacao producers are the CONACADO and COOPROAGRO cooperatives. The project will maintain an ongoing dialogue with the Department of Cacao at the Ministry of Agriculture to promote synergies with national programmes. Many other Dominican cacao industry players will also be involved, such as the Comisión Nacional del Cacao, IDIAF and the Deputy Ministry of Natural and Forest Resources. Similarly, Cacao Forest 2 will collaborate with three partner universities: UASD, ISA and PUCYMM.
M. José Miguel Cordero
The launch ceremony was hosted by the Deputy Agriculture Minister , Mr José Miguel Cordero, in the presence of the French Ambassador to the Dominican Republic, HE Eric Fournier , and the Director of AFD in Santo Domingo, Sandra Kassab. The Deputy Minister of Natural and Forest Resources, Mrs Fernanda de León, was also present. The Deputy Minister José Miguel Cordero stressed the importance of this project for the sector, particularly in the year when cacao had been declared a crop in the national interest. For his part, the French Ambassador spoke of the innovative nature of this alliance between various public and private players and an NGO.
S.E. Eric Fournier