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Cacao Forest Phase 2: the project goes up a gear!

8 December 2020
Thanks to the work done over the 3 years of Phase 1, from 2016 to 2019, Cacao Forest has demonstrated the value of its research programme and the positive impacts it can have on the producers’ families, cooperatives and the fabric of the local economy.

And so AFD, the French Development Agency, has decided to join the project. An influential partner, justifying the project’s ambitions and the work done so far.

The Cacao Forest II project financing agreement, worth some €500,000, was signed on Tuesday 16 June by the French Development Agency (AFD) and CIRAD in the presence of Sandra Kassab, AFD Director in the Dominican Republic.

The signing took place in the compound of the French Embassy in Santo Domingo, and His Excellency the French Ambassador, Mr Didier Lopinot, was clearly enthusiastic and positively impressed by the work already done and the originality of the Cacao Forest project, whose participative approach and public/private partnership in particular make it an innovative project, quite apart from its purely scientific and methodological aspects.

Signing of the CIRAD/AFD Agreement at the French Embassy, attended by: (from left to right):
Olivier Deheuvels - CIRAD Scientific Coordinator, 
Maria Rey de Arce - EF Project Coordinator,
 HE Mr Didier Lopinot - French Ambassador to the Dominican Republic,  
Sandra Kassab - AFD Director, Dominican Republic,
Jean-Baptiste Dabezies - Head of the Economics Department, French Embassy in the Dominican Republic

Agreements with our traditional partners (CIRAD, Earthworm Foundation, Terra Isara) have been renewed, and a new partnership is currently taking shape with CEDAF – Centre para El Desarollo Agropecuario y Forestal – particularly so that Cacao Forest project coordinators can be accommodated on CEDAF premises allowing resources and skills to be shared.

Meanwhile, monitoring continues in the field, continuing the work started in phase I:

  • Finalising production data readings from the 34 rural plots in the Réseau de Suivi Participatif (RSP - Participative Monitoring Network). 
  • Starting an inventory and accurate mapping of the condition of 36 plots in the Réseau Expérimental Participatif (REP - Participative Experimental Network) and mortality among young cacao trees and associated species. 
  • Developing two training course projects on the project’s experimental network (REP) with Dominican students, co-managed by IDIAF. 
  • Preparing for the recruitment of a local technician with responsibility for supporting cooperatives in their diversification.
  • Monitoring the production of cacao clones by the National Cacao Commission.
  • Monitoring the purchase by the San Cristobal technician of shade species to replace in the REP creation and transition plots.
  • Monitoring the agreement with COOPROAGRO to market cacao-associated products. 

Two collaborative project strategies with national Dominican universities are also being studied:

- one for the development of agroforestry training models 

- the other for the establishment of an impact monitoring framework to assess project reproducibility 

The global pandemic has delayed a number of activities planned for 2020, but we continue to move forward and are even preparing the roll-out of Cacao Forest across other cacao-producing countries…