What are mixed forests?

Mixed forests provide a habitat for a variety of different plants and animals and are very sustainable. They are the antidote to monocultures.

A living laboratory model:The Maya Mountain Research Farm

How monocultures destroy the soil

Soils are sensitive ecosystems that have evolved over tens of thousands of years as weathering has broken rocks down to finer levels and organic material from plants has rotted on them. They are full of nutrients. If only one type of crop is grown on a soil system, then only certain nutrients are removed from the soil. If these nutrients are withdrawn from the soil in this way, they have to be added artificially as fertilizer. In nature, however, there are of course no artificially produced nitrates - nature has provided a sophisticated ecosystem in which one plant species provides the other plant species with exactly the nutrients they need to survive. Exactly these symbioses are tried to be used in permaculture.

Zeremonieller Kakao Anbau im Mischwald Kolumbien

Arhuaca in Colombia 🇨🇴

Cacao cultivation in harmony with nature

How monocultures make producers dependent and vulnerable

Imagine you are a cocoa farmer and all you can sell are cocoa beans. Hundreds of tons of cocoa beans. Now imagine that the world market price for cocoa, which is traded on the stock exchange, crashes. Suddenly you may have lost money this year instead of earning it. You have to take out a loan to continue working. Or worse, imagine your cacao trees getting sick. Suddenly you can only bring in 50% of your harvest, but you have even more costs because of pesticides (for non-organic cocoa). You are facing bankruptcy. On the other hand, if you run a permaculture farm, you can still sell your vanilla. Or your bananas. Or your coffee. Or your nutmegs. Or your papayas. Or your mangoes. Or... As you can see, there are (almost) no limits to the possibilities. Which system would you choose? Permaculture creates a sustainable economic climate for producers of tropical exports..

Selva Tabasqueno in Mexico 🇲🇽

Build on the experience of centuries

Agroforestry generates higher income and stable food security for farmers

In a long-term study over 20 years, the Research Institute for Organic Farming (FiBL) compared agroforestry systems with conventional monocultures. What they found out The organically managed agroforestry forests achieve the lowest cocoa yield per hectare in comparison - overall, however, the farmers can achieve a higher income and a more stable income security. They are less dependent on international price fluctuations or crop failures because they grow many different products. You can find the study here. The first video below is also a summary of the study.

Agroforestry protects biodiversity in the jungle

Maya Mountain Research Farm has counted over 150 different bird species in their agroforestry. In conventional monocultures not nearly as many animal species find protection. Agroforestry systems or permaculture can be used anywhere in the world. The permaculture movement has resonated with farmers around the world. And that's hardly surprising. In the second video below, a cocoa farmer from Ghana explains how permaculture saves him a lot of work and how he sometimes plans decades into the future when he creates fields for permaculture.

Permaculture in Ghana (EN 🇬🇧)

Agroforestry vs. monoculture (EN 🇬🇧)

Find more resources on permaculture & agroforestry systems in the tropics here

the Maya Mountain Research Farm is a living example of the future of permaculture in the tropics (and they make great videos).here go to their website.

That Ghana Permaculture Institute deals intensively with the topic of permaculture and agroforestry.here you can find their website.

A good blog article by Readcacao Magazine on cocoa from agroforestry cultivation can be foundhere.