Rainforest Alliance Director for Mesoamerica Highlights MLR Forestal’s cocoa with teak shade method.
In his recent tour of MLR Forestal’s plantations, Edgar González Godoy, director for Mesoamerica for the Rainforest Alliance, was surprised by the two species of trees he saw growing together.
“The association between teak and cocoa I had never seen before. I had seen cocoa agroforestry systems with other species, but cocoa with teak is the first time I have seen it. I find it quite interesting and the results they have achieved as a company are very important as well,” said the executive.
González Godoy was in Siuna, Nicaragua, as part of a technical visit of the Rainforest Alliance to learn about the management of agroforestry systems and the association of teak with cocoa developed by MLR Forestal, which was also the first company nationwide to be evaluated with the new sustainable agriculture protocol of this certifying entity.
Teak and cocoa association: an innovative system of MLR Forestal
The association of commercial teak wood and fine aroma cocoa is an MLR method and consists of placing the cocoa next to the teak to take advantage of the growing space in a better way. In turn, the teak tree fulfills the role of providing the shade that cocoa requires for its optimal development.
Oscar Danilo Valle, head of the Cocoa Area of MLR Forestal, stressed that the association of cocoa with teak “is unique in Nicaragua and is related to sustainability because it makes rational use of the soil and is a symbiosis in which the teak leaf serves cocoa, and cocoa in turn controls weeds. This link also has benefits to the system because two crops are used in an environmentally sustainable way.”
González Godoy said that he did not expect “to see this degree of complexity and commitment that MLR Forestal has not only conservation of natural resources, biodiversity, ecosystem services but also with the fulfillment of the social part. In addition, I am very happy with this agroforestry production system with teak and cocoa.”
More than 1,300 hectares of teak and cocoa association by 2022
The initial arrangement of this model is the planting of teak at 8×4 meters with a population density of 312 plants per hectare and cocoa with a density of 1,388 plants per hectare, where teak thinning will be carried out per year until there is a population of 70 teak plants per hectare.
All plantations have the Rainforest Alliance certification that guarantees the sustainable and integral management of production in all its stages.
Currently, MLR Forestal has an area of 1,422.60 hectares of teak only under silvicultural management. By 2022 it is estimated to complete a large total planted of 1673.94 hectares of teak and an additional 1,387.96 hectares of teak in association with cocoa.