In the Bafwasende landscape in DR Congo the adoption of agroforestry practices could help decrease the pres¬sure on the natural forest. We have been working to improve the conditions for scaling diverse cocoa-based agroforestry practices. What have we done and learned:
- Tropenbos DR Congo built capacity among local farmers — women and youth in particular — to improve their income through cocoa-based agroforestry systems, while preventing deforestation.
- They supported communities with formalizing collective land titles covering 90,000 hectares, offering tenure security needed to invest in agroforestry on lands that were previously deforested.
- They enabled farmers to organize themselves in 20 producer associations and established contacts with financial institutions to increase access to credit for agroforestry.
- They learned that it is crucial for any NGO working with communities to critically reflect on how the land-use practices they promote relate to local preferences, needs and customs.
- It is critical to combine support for agroforestry with developing value chains for deforestation-free produce, and investments in land-use planning, monitoring and enforcement, to ensure that agroforestry expansion does not take place at the expense of natural forests.