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Tropentag 2021, September 15 - 17, hybrid conference, Germany

"Towards shifting paradigms in agriculture for a healthy and sustainable future"

Timber from Organic Cacao Agroforestry Systems, an Additional Source of Income for Farmers in Bolivia

Matthias Baumann1, Lukas Brönnimann2, Ulf Schneidewind3, Laura Armengot1, Joachim Milz3, Johanna Rüegg1, Monika Schneider1

1Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), International Cooperation, Switzerland
2Bern University of Applied Sciences (BFH), School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences (HAFL)
3Ecotop, Bolivia


Unlike cacao monocultures, cacao agroforestry systems offer a wide range of additional ecosystem services and values to the farmers, such as (i.a. regulating pests and diseases, balancing the understory climate and carbon sequestration) and enable a higher independence from the main crop by generating a potential additional income.

To assess the standing timber volume and value, a tree inventory was conducted in 2017 in 16 smallholder cacao agroforestry plots in Alto Beni, Bolivia. Farmers and experts were interviewed to identified the challenges for the timber production in these agroforestry systems.

The timber trees on the plots had mainly an age of about 10-20 years (mean 15.5 years) but some trees were also in the range between 2-40 years. A total number of 2’941 trees were counted on all the plots and 20% of it were Swietenia macrophylla, which makes it the most popular timber species. Other very common species were Myroxylon balsamum (12%), Amburana cearensis (11%) and Centrolobium ochroxylum (10%). The average timber tree density was 230 trees/ha and the standing timber volume was 46 m3/ha. The standing timber per plot had an estimated average value of 12’947 USD/ha at the time. Because of lack of professional timber processing, such as timber transportation and sawmill, the loss in timber volume is estimated around 40%. Additionally, farmers are challenged with trimming and pruning of trees as well as with the legal requirements.

With the aim to increase farmer’s income from timber trees we suggest the following measures at three levels: (1) improving plantation layout (density, layout, species) and tree management (criteria for selection for cut off trees, trimming and pruning); (2) to support a more professional timber logging and processing to decrease losses and (3) to create service providers such as farmer owned cooperatives for logging, sawing, registration of trees and logging permits.
More information on the project can be found here: https://systems-comparison.fibl.org

Keywords: Bolivia, income, organic cocoa-agroforestry, timber, tree inventory

Contact Address: Monika Schneider, Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), Department of International Cooperation , Ackerstrasse 113, 5070 Frick, Switzerland, e-mail: monika.schneider@fibl.org

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