In this study, we analyzed the impacts of two cocoa production systems, full-sun and agroforestry, at the farm-level and beyond the farm-level.
This study shows that the impacts of cocoa production can only be accurately accounted for when the land use dynamics arising in producing landscapes are taken into account. Impact assessments of value chains involving an agricultural phase need to complement farm-level accounting methods with tools able to capture the land use change impacts caused by agriculture beyond the farm-level. Land use modelling and fine-scale spatial assessments can help the assessment of these context-specific land use dynamics.
Due to its lower yields, cocoa agroforestry performed worse than those of cocoa full-sun according to most impact indicators (except for biodiversity and human toxicity). However, positive impacts for biodiversity and carbon stocks could be achieved with cocoa agroforestry if sustainable intensification and forest protection policies are implemented in cocoa producing landscapes. The impacts on biodiversity and carbon stocks at the landscape-level can be worse than those at the farm-level or even show contrary results (e.g. carbon gains at the landscape-level versus carbon losses at the farm-level) due to changes in spatial configuration of the landscape.
Our results showed that, due to socioeconomic systems in which cocoa production is embedded, the close cooperation between private and public actors is needed to solve sustainability issues in cocoa value chains using integrated landscape-based approaches.
- Impacts at the farm-level are mostly worse for cocoa agroforestry than full-sun.
- At the landscape level, promoting cocoa agroforestry delivers positive impacts.
- Impacts beyond the farm-level can surpass or contradict those at the farm-level.
- Using proper spatial planning, increased cocoa production can bring positive impacts.
- Impact assessments of cocoa production must take into account land use dynamics.
Image: Graphical Abstract. From: Parra-Paitan, C. & P.H. Verburg (2022). Accounting for land use changes beyond the farm-level in sustainability assessments: The impact of cocoa production. Science of The Total Environment 825:154032. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.154032
Read the full article: Parra-Paitan, C. & P.H. Verburg (2022). Accounting for land use changes beyond the farm-level in sustainability assessments: The impact of cocoa production. Science of The Total Environment 825:154032. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.154032