Plant diversity and density in cocoa-based agroforestry systems: how farmers’ income is affected in the Dominican Republic
Published online: 04 January 2020.
Cocoa-based agroforestry systems (AFS) provide a variety of products, either sold or self-consumed. The choice of crop species and planting density in cocoa AFS has an impact on the quantities and the economic value of the agricultural products sold and consumed by producers. We characterized 140 cocoa AFS in three main production areas in the Dominican Republic, together with farmer’s management practices, to construct a typology of cocoa AFS based on their structure, and evaluate their performances. The sum of the sales of cocoa, other products, and self-consumption did not differ significantly among AFS types. However, a high degree of diversification combined with a high density of associated fruit species reduced cocoa sales, but increased fruit sales and self-consumption. In contrast, a low diversity of associated plants including nitrogen-fixing trees increased cocoa sales but reduced fruit sales and self-consumption. The highest economic performance was obtained with intermediate diversity (three to seven species) and density (100–400 associated plants ha⁻¹). Our results provide food for thought for optimizing crop diversity and density to adjust the economic balance between sales and self-consumption of the products harvested in cocoa AFS.