"Sustainable soil management is a basic building block for sustainable cocoa"
As most cocoa farmers have historically not managed their soil well, it is very important to the economic and environmental sustainability of the cocoa farming system that the soil be rehabilitated and then managed on a more sustainable way over the long term.
To rebuild depleted soil, we need to re-establish core nutrient levels, increase organic matter to improve soil structure and “reseed” the soil with natural micro-organisms that help control detrimental molds and fungi and break down the nutrients so the plant can use them. We may also need to invest in some better drainage systems in some areas to reduce water-logging and manage run-off.
The ‘Cocoa Care” program recommends the application of a combined NPK commercial fertilizer at a rate of 70 g per cocoa tree (depending on the area and climatic conditions), followed by 2 weekly application of foliar fertilizer to restore basic soil nutrients and cocoa tree health. Depending on the original soil condition, super phosphate, ammonium sulphate or dolomite may also be required.
Depending on the particular soil conditions we may also need to adjust soil acidity (pH) to approach the ideal conditions for the cocoa trees (pH 6 - 7.5) , and improve drainage to avoid water logging.
Having revitalized the basic nutrients we would then apply approximately 5 kg of specially formulated compost to each cocoa tree, depending on soil condition and location, to enhance soil carbon, improve soil condition and re-establish natural soil micro-organisms. The compost must be dug into the soil requiring some heavy physical work and so the cost of applying compost in relatively high.
Consequently to rehabilitate the soil in the first instance will cost $2.75 per tree, including the necessary tools, training and support costs, with a second year cost of $1.65 / tree to re-establish the base that will support ongoing moderate maintenance to achieve solid long term high productivity. As soil is a fundamental building block of any sustainable farm, this is a critical investment for a sustainable future.
You may chose to help a cocoa farmer provide a more sustainable future for his family’s by getting him started with rehabilitating his soil, or help a “Cocoa Carer” to extend his capability to make compost or provide tools to make it easier to apply the compost in the field.