11 Jul 2015

SEAP Quarterly Newsletter 2015 - 2

In this IssueClimate Smart, Sustainable Intensification and 4R Nutrient Stewardship in Cocoa - It Does Make Sense
IPNI Program Updates
- Editorial: Climate smart, sustainable intensification and 4R Nutrient Stewardship in Cocoa - It does make sense

News From the Region
- Is Palm Oil really that bad?
- Boost for small palm oil planters in Malaysia?
- Researchers say oil palm destroying peatlands
-Commodities and El Nino: the mocha hedge
- El Nino to impact agriculture commodities in 2015?
-Indonesia returns to the chocolate crop
- Callebaut eyes Philippines as next big source of cacao
- Ghana and Indonesia's poor cocoa production leads to global shortage
- Indonesia palm oil points to output recovery

Literature at a Glance
- Oil palm natural diversity and the potential for yield improvement
- Effect of four soil and water conservation practices on soil physical processes in a non-terraced oil palm plantation
- Making biodiversity friendly cocoa pay: combining yield, certification, and REDD for shade management
- Spatial analysis for management zone delineation in a humid tropic cocoa plantation
- Spatial heterogeneity of soil quality around mature oil palms receiving mineral fertilization
- Rachis Nutrient Concentrations of Different Oil Palm Genotypes as Affected by Irrigation and Terrain
- Profitability and implications of cocoa intensification on carbon emissions in Southern Cameroun
- Nutrient stocks in litterfall and litter in cocoa agroforests in Brazil
- Trade-offs between crop intensification and ecosystem services: the role of agroforestry in cocoa cultivation
- Contribution of cocoa agroforestry systems to family income and domestic consumption: looking toward intensification
- Farmer attitudes and intentions towards trees in cocoa farms in Cote d'Ivoire
- Superior Effect of Compost Derived from Palm Oil Mill By-Products as a Replacement for Inorganic Fertilisers Applied to Oil Palm

Upcoming Events
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Demand for cocoa is increasing, specifically in Asia. The Asian region reported a cocoa consumption growth of 31% from 2007/08 to 2012/13. Consumption in China and India is expected to increase by 7.9% annually until 2018/19, compared to 2.0% global annual growth during the same time (Anga, 2015 ).

On the other hand, climate change will reduce the productive capacity in West Africa, the main producer of cocoa. Model predictions indicate an overall decrease in the climatic suitability of current growing regions (Läderach et al, 2013). Suitability in areas at altitudes up to about 400 m above sea level will decrease in the future as a result of the general temperature increase and increase in evaporation. Increased suitability in higher areas is limited and cannot compensate for the suitability decrease in the lowlands.

Growing demand for cocoa and the simultaneous decrease of the climatic suitability in main growing areas will require a shift in the prevailing production paradigm of expanding the cropping frontier into suitable forested lands. Sustainable intensification (SI), based on four premises, (i) the need to increase production, (ii) that is met through higher yields on existing lands, (iii) while safeguarding environmental sustainability (iv) by deploying suitable agricultural techniques, is considered a viable alternative to current production methods (Garnett et al, 2013).

It was shown that SI is indeed compatible with and reinforcing of climate smart agriculture. Climate smart agriculture (CSA) also attempts to increase agricultural productivity to support increased incomes, food security and development while increasing adaptive capacity at multiple levels and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing carbon sinks (Campbell et al, 2014 ). Sustainable intensification is expected to have a positive impact on income. Farmers will not adopt practices for climate change adaptation if they don’t improve returns on investment.

The SI approach improves the efficiency of production while achieving lower GHG emissions per unit of output, the central mitigation objective of CSA: Conclusive evidence that an increase in GHG emissions from production intensification can be compensated for, or even outweighed by, the increase in carbon sequestration into above-ground and below-ground tree biomass strategy has been provided for coffee (Noponen et al, 2013 ). It was also demonstrated that extending production area into forested land to compensate for the shortfall in profitability from retaining lower intensity coffee is causing additional GHG emissions higher than those from intensification in existing lands.

Cocoa, like coffee, is a smallholder agroforestry system. Recently, it was shown that cocoa agroforestry systems are able to sequester significant amounts of carbon (65 tC/ha), specifically so if they are established on land with modest C content such as degraded forest or agricultural land, and not on land with old growth forest (Kongsager et al, 2013 ). Importantly, cocoa can be established in degraded lands. In the forest–savannah interface in Cameroon, farmers intensified cocoa agroforestry systems successfully even on Imperata cylindrica grasslands, a soil-climate zone generally considered unsuitable for cocoa cultivation (Jagoret et al, 2012 ).

Ruf et al (2015 ) urge supply chain actors to discourage forest frontier dynamics and help cocoa farmers adapt to environmental change by adopting more intensive and diversified farming practices, building on farmers’ own risk mitigation and adaptation strategies. Yields in commercial smallholder cocoa farming systems are far below their potential, and practices that lead to yield increase are of outmost interest for farmers. Cunningham and Arnold (1962) demonstrated convincingly as early as in the fifties that cocoa responds well with yield increase to a judicious management of fertilizer and shade .
Burney and co-workers (2010) argued that while emissions on a global scale from factors such as fertilizer production and application have increased, the net effect of higher yields has avoided emissions of up to 161 gigatons of carbon (GtC) (590 GtCO2e) since 1961. They estimated that each dollar invested in agricultural yields has resulted in 68 fewer kgC (249 kgCO2e) emissions relative to 1961 technology, avoiding 3.6 GtC (13.1 GtCO2e) per year. They conclude that investment in yield improvements compares favorably with other commonly proposed mitigation strategies.

Gockowski and Sonwa (2011 ) reported that the Guinean rain forest of West Africa, a global biodiversity hotspot, had reduced to 18% of its original area at the start of the new millennium. The principal driver of this environmental change had been the expansion of extensive smallholder agriculture in cocoa, cassava and oil palm. On the other hand field results suggest a high potential for significantly increasing crop yields through increased application of seed-fertilizer technologies. They estimated that over 21,000 km2 of deforestation and forest degradation could have been avoided along with the emission of nearly 1.4 billion t of CO2 had intensified cocoa technology, already developed in the 1960s, been pursued in Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon.

Today, evidence shows that judicious use of fertilizer in smallholder farming systems is indeed compatible with the concepts of SI and CSA, while providing much needed return on investment to farmers (Schroth et al 2014 ). In turn, Magne et al (2014 ) demonstrated that the judicious use of fertilizers is profitable and environmentally sustainable. Their work indicated that intensified systems were more profitable at various discount rates, with up to 50 % cocoa yield increase and about 40 shade trees / ha.

IPNI has developed the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Concept for responsible use of fertilizers. IPNI’s Southeast Program has started with partners in Indonesia to improve the available knowledge required to successfully support cocoa system intensification with responsible use of various sources of nutrients.

Thomas Oberthür, Director IPNI Southeast Asia


1. Anga: Latest developments in the global cocoa market. 3rd Asia Choco Cocoa Congress, Singapore, 22 April 2015.

2. Läderach & Martinez-Valle & Schroth & Castro: Predicting the future climatic suitability for cocoa farming of the worlds leading producer countries, Ghana and Côte dIvoire. Climatic Change (2013) 119:841854

3. Garnett, Appleby, Balmford, Bateman, Benton, Bloomer, Burlingame, Dawkins, Dolan, Fraser, Herrero, Hoffmann, Smith, Thornton, Toulmin, Vermeulen, Godfray: Sustainable Intensification in Agriculture: Premises and Policies. Science (2013) 341:33-34

4. Campbell, Thornton, Zougmore, van Asten & Lipper: Sustainable intensification: What is its role in climate smart agriculture? Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability (2014) 8:39–43

5. Noponen, Haggar, Edwards-Jones, Healey. 2013. Intensification of coffee systems can increase the effectiveness of REDD mechanisms. Agricultural Systems 119 (2013) 1–9

6. Kongsager, Napier & Mertz: The carbon sequestration potential of tree crop plantations. Mitig Adapt Strateg Glob Change (2013) 18:1197–1213

7. Jagoret, Michel-Dounias, Snoeck, Todem Ngnogue & Malezieux: Afforestation of savannah with cocoa agroforestry systems: a small-farmer innovation in central Cameroon. Agroforest Syst (2012) 86:493–504

8. Ruf, Schroth & Doffangui: Climate change, cocoa migrations and deforestation in West Africa: What does the past tell us about the future? Sustain Sci (2015) 10:101–111

9. Cunningham & Arnhold: The shade and fertiliser requirements of cacao (Theobroma Cacao) in Ghana. J. Sci. Food Agric. (1962) 13:213-221

10. Gockowski & Sonwa: Cocoa Intensification Scenarios and Their Predicted Impact on CO2 Emissions, Biodiversity Conservation, and Rural Livelihoods in the Guinea Rain Forest of West Africa. Environmental Management (2011) 48:307–321

11. Schroth, Jeusset, da Silva Gomes, Tavares Florence, Pinto Coelho, Faria & Läderach: Climate friendliness of cocoa agroforests is compatible with productivity increase. Mitig Adapt Strateg Glob Change (2014). Published Online on 11 May 2014

12. Nadege Magne, Ewane Nonga, Yemefack & Robiglio: Profitability and implications of cocoa intensification on carbon emissions in Southern Cameroun. Agroforest Syst (2014) Published Online 01 June 2014.

News from the Region
Is Palm Oil really that bad?
Palm oil receives hectares of bad press, but it is a highly efficient crop that’s essential to food security in Africa and Asia, argues Denis Murphy, Professor of Biotechnology and Head of Genomics & Computational Biology Research at The University of South Wales.

There are many significant challenges facing oil palm, and further encroachment onto sensitive native forest areas should be minimized and eventually halted. However, palm oil is also a uniquely efficient edible crop that is essential for food security in Africa and Asia. By working together as an
international community that includes scientists, farmers, processors and consumers, he aims to develop solutions to many of the problems faced by oil palm.

One of the most encouraging developments has been the establishment of a reasonably robust and independent body to certify the environmental and social credentials of palm oil. The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, or RSPO, has a vision to “transform the markets by making sustainable palm oil the norm”. The RSPO has over 2000 members globally that represent 40% of the palm oil industry, covering all sectors of the supply chain. There is also an increasingly active international research effort aimed at understanding the ecological and environmental impact of oil palm compared to other habitats such as rainforests and rapeseed or soybean farms.

Source: Adelaide Independent News, July 9, 2015
Boost for small palm oil planters in Malaysia
Over 400,000 oil palm smallholders in Malaysia will finally get to see their estates certified as producers of sustainable palm oil under the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification standard initiated by the Government. With an initial fund of 50 million ringgit (US$13.2 million) allocated for this purpose, many independent smallholders are more receptive towards getting the MSPO certification, compared with the stringent rules and costly auditing process imposed on them when trying to acquire Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certification, which is the world’s first palm oil certification standard.

Source: The Jakarta Post, July 6, 2015
Researchers say oil palm plantations destroying peatlands
Substantial areas of the river delta in Sarawak, eastern Malaysia, are already experiencing drainage problems, according to a study commissioned by Wetlands International, a Netherlands-based conservation group. It predicted that 42 percent of the 850,000 hectares of coastal peatland would experience flooding in 25 years, rising to around 82 percent in 100 years. Drainage of peatlands to cultivate oil palm in Malaysia's Rajang Delta is causing land subsidence that will bring large-scale floods in coming decades, making the land unusable, a problem also expected to affect Indonesia, researchers warned.

Source: Reuters, July 6, 2015
Commodities and El Nino: The mocha hedge
For three months last year the price of Arabica coffee jumped to a price of $2.27 a pound ($5 a kilo) in October—the highest level since 2011. A comedown was inevitable: the price of coffee has since plummeted, largely due to last year's drought in Brazil, the world's biggest coffee producer.

A study from ICCO found that El Niño tends to reduce global cocoa production by roughly 2.4%, thanks partly to a steep fall in Côte d’Ivoire, the biggest producer. This decline tends to drive up prices, by an average of 1.7% each El Niño year. For coffee the results are less clear. Heavy rains this year could boost South American harvests, which could help keep prices down. But droughts in South-East Asia would harm the crop there, and if El Niño causes the rainy season to last too long in South America, next year’s harvest could suffer. Other crops at risk include palm oil, most of which is produced in Indonesia and Malaysia; rice, which is widely grown in South-East Asia; and Australia’s wheat and beef industries.

Source: The Economist, June 20, 2015
Weather in Indonesia: El Nino to impact agricultural commodities in 2015?
It is increasingly believed that the El Nino weather phenomenon will hit Indonesia in the next couple of months. Over the past weeks reports already surfaced about unusual dry weather impacting negatively on harvests of agricultural commodities in parts of Southeast Asia. In Indonesia, dry weather traditionally lasts from May to August. However, El Nino may cause warmer conditions and extending these into September hence affecting output in the peak harvest season. This will cut agricultural output and provide inflationary pressure.

Source: The Citizen Daily, June 15, 2015

Indonesia returns to the chocolate crop
Having turned their backs on cocoa after a string of harvest failures due to pests and diseases, Indonesian cocoa farmers are raking in huge profits thanks to cocoa mentoring programs offered by chocolate producing giant, MARS.

Source: Bangkok Post, June 2, 2015
Callebaut eyes Philippines as next big source for cacao
Barry Callebaut, the world’s leading manufacturer of high-quality chocolate and cacao products, is eyeing the Philippines as the next big source of cacao, specifically looking at the potentials of Mindanao region to save Asia Pacific from a shortage for this special commodity.

Source: Manila Bulletin, May 31, 2015

Ghana and Indonesia's poor cocoa production leads to global shortage
Chances of chocolate-based candy or food products becoming more expensive in the near future have grown due to the weak harvest in Ghana, the world’s second-largest cocoa producer. Most likely, the country will fail to fulfill sales contracts hence leading to higher global cocoa prices. In New York and London cocoa futures jumped roughly seven percent in recent weeks. Meanwhile, Indonesian cocoa exports declined 56 percent (y/y) in April 2015. The main cocoa producing regions have been struggling with bad weather and diseases.

Source: Indonesia-Investments, May 7, 2015

Indonesia palm oil points to output recovery
Indonesia's palm oil output may be matching Malaysia's in showing a second‐quarter revival, according to data from producers including REA Holdings, which flagged potential signs of price recovery too. REA Holdings, which manages plantations in Indonesia, has seen palm oil output recover in
the past two months, after a period when weather problems reduced production on the island of Borneo.

Source: AgriMoney.com, June 11, 2015
Literature at a Glance
Oil palm natural diversity and the potential for yield improvement
Abstract: African oil palm has the highest productivity amongst cultivated oleaginous crops. Species can constitute a single crop capable to fulfill the growing global demand for vegetable oils, which is estimated to reach 240 million tons by 2050. Two types of vegetable oil are extracted from the palm fruit on commercial scale. The crude palm oil and kernel palm oil have different fatty acid profiles, which increases versatility of the crop in industrial applications. Plantations of the current varieties have economic life-span around 25-30 years and produce fruits around the year. Thus, predictable annual palm oil supply enables marketing plans and adjustments in line with the economic forecasts. Oil palm cultivation is one of the most profitable land uses in the humid tropics. Oil palm fruits are the richest plant source of pro-vitamin A and vitamin E. Hence, crop both alleviates poverty, and could provide a simple practical solution to eliminate global pro-vitamin A deficiency. Oil palm is a perennial, evergreen tree adapted to cultivation in biodiversity rich equatorial land areas. The growing demand for the palm oil threatens the future of the rain forests and has a large negative impact on biodiversity. Plant science faces three major challenges to make oil palm the key element of building the future sustainable world. The global average yield of 3.5 tons of oil per hectare (t) should be raised to the full yield potential estimated at 11-18t. The tree architecture must be changed to lower labor intensity and improve mechanization of the harvest. Oil composition should be tailored to the evolving needs of the food, oleochemical and fuel industries. The release of the oil palm reference genome sequence in 2013 was the key step toward this goal. The molecular bases of agronomically important traits can be and are beginning to be understood at the single base pair resolution, enabling gene-centered breeding and engineering of this remarkable crop. Barcelos, E.; Rios, S.D.; Cunha, R.N.V. ; Lopes, R.; Motoike, S.Y.; Babiychuk, E.; Skirycz, A.; Kushnir, S.

Source: Frontiers in Plant Science, Volume 6 (190), 2015
Effect of four soil and water conservation practices on soil physical processes in a non-terraced oil palm plantation
Abstract: Mulching materials from oil palm residues such as pruned palm fronds (OPF), empty fruit bunches (EFB), and Eco-mat (ECO; a compressed EFB mat) are often the recommended soil and water conservation practices (CP) for oil palm plantations on hill slopes. Another recommended CP is the construction of silt pits or trenches (SIL) across the hill slope to capture runoff and then return the water and nutrients into the surrounding soil. Although these four CP are recommended practices, their relative effects on improving soil physical properties and on increasing the soil water content have never been compared with one another. Consequently, the objective of this study was to fill in this knowledge gap. A three-year field experiment was conducted in a non-terraced oil palm plantation, and soil samples from 0 to 0.15, 0.15 to 0.30, and 0.30 to 0.45 m depths were collected every three months and analyzed for their soil physical properties. Soil water content up to 0.75 m depth was also measured daily. EFB released the highest amount of organic matter and nutrients into the soil compared to OPF, ECO, and SIL. Hence, EFB was most effective to increase soil aggregation, aggregate stability, soil water retention at field capacity, available soil water content, and the relative proportion of soil mesopores. Due to these improved soil physical properties, EFB also gave the highest soil water content. Unlike ECO that concentrated more water in the upper soil layers, EFB distributed the soil water more uniformly throughout the whole soil profile, but SIL concentrated more soil water in the lower soil layers (>0.30 m) because the water levels in the pits were often below 0.30 m from the soil surface. The large opening area of the silt pits could have also caused large evaporative water losses from the pits. EFB mulching is recommended as the best CP, particularly for oil palm plantations on hill slopes. Moradi, A.; Sung, C.T.B.; Goh, K.J.; Hanif, A.H.M.; Ishak, C.F.

Source: Soil & Tillage Research, Volume 145: 62 - 71, 2015
Making biodiversity friendly cocoa pay: combining yield, certification, and REDD for shade management
Abstract: The twin United Nations' Millennium Development Goals of biodiversity preservation and poverty reduction both strongly depend on actions in the tropics. In particular, traditional agroforestry could be critical to both biological conservation and human livelihoods in human-altered rainforest areas. However, traditional agroforestry is rapidly disappearing, because the system itself is economically precarious, and because the forest trees that shade traditional crops are now perceived to be overly detrimental to agricultural yield. Here, we show a case where the commonly used agroforestry shade metric, canopy cover, would indeed suggest complete removal of shade trees to maximize yield, with strongly negative biodiversity and climate implications. However, a yield over 50% higher was achievable if approximately 100 shade trees per hectare were planted in a spatially organized fashion, a win-win for biodiversity and the smallholder. The higher yield option was detected by optimizing simultaneously for canopy cover, and a second shade metric, neighboring tree density, which was designed to better capture the yield value of ecological services flowing from forest trees. Nevertheless, even a 50% yield increase may prove insufficient to stop farmers converting away from traditional agroforestry. To further increase agroforestry rents, we apply our results to the design of a sustainable certification (eco-labelling) scheme for cocoa-based products in a biodiversity hotspot, and consider their implications for the use of the United Nations REDD (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) program in agroforestry systems. Combining yield boost, certification, and REDD has the potential to incentivize eco-friendly agroforestry and lift smallholders outof poverty, simultaneously. Waldron, A.; Justicia, R.; Smith, L. E.

Source: Ecological Applications, Volume 25 (2): 361 - 372, 2015
Spatial analysis for management zone delineation in a humid tropic cocoa plantation
Abstract: Identifying spatio-temporal patterns of key soil properties could ensure efficient management and input use in agricultural fields with possible increase in yields. A multi-variate geostatistical approach was used to characterize the spatio-temporal variability of the key soil variables to determine management zones in a cocoa field (5.81 ha). One hundred and twenty soil samples were collected. Additionally, a total of nine apparent electrical conductivity (ECa) sampling campaigns at shallow, ECas (0-0.75 m) and deep, ECad (0.75-1.5 m) were conducted with a DUALEM-1S EC meter at the International Cocoa GeneBank, Trinidad between 2009 and 2010. ECad and ECas gave the strongest linear correlation with clay-silt content (r = 0.67 and r = 0.78, respectively) and soil solution electrical conductivity (ECe), ECe (r = 0.76 and r = 0.60, respectively). Multiple linear regressions indicated that clay-silt content and ECe dominated the signal surface response of both ECad and ECas accounting for 66.7 and 63.2 % of ECa variability, respectively. Spearman's rank correlation coefficients (r(s)) ranged between 0.89 and 0.97 for ECad and 0.81 and 0.95 for ECas signifying strong temporal stability. Since ECas covers the depth where cocoa feeder roots concentrate, ECas of the wettest month surveyed (August 2009) was used as secondary data in cokriging to improve the spatial and temporal estimation of clay-silt content and ECe. Cokriged data was subjected to fuzzy cluster classification using the Management Zone Analyst software. Two was determined to be the optimum number of management zones. This zone delineation potentially facilitates cost-effective, environmentally friendly and energy efficient management of the field. De Caires, S.A.; Wuddivira, M.N.; Bekele, I.

Source: Precision Agriculture, Volume 16 (2): 129 - 147, 2015
Spatial heterogeneity of soil quality around mature oil palms receiving mineral fertilization
Abstract: The African oil palm (Elaeis guineensis Jacq.) is grown on a total area of 16 million ha; but data on soil quality in mature oil palm plantations are fragmentary and data concerning biota are almost nonexistent. Consequently, no well-tested sampling method is available for soil diagnoses. We studied the spatial heterogeneity of the soil around the palm by measuring comprehensive soil quality in a 24-year-old oil palm plantation. Soil quality and litter were assessed in five zones with different plant cover, and different applications of herbicide or fertilizer. Physical-chemical characteristics, macrofauna, and nematofauna were analysed. A sampling method was developed and adapted to the way the cultivation practices are implemented: sampling by zone and weighting the plot mean by the respective area of each zone. The total density of macrofauna in the litter and in the 0-15 cm soil layer followed a gradient from the harvest pathway (29 ind m(-2)) to the windrow (1003 ind m(-2)). Ants (13-237 ind m(-2)), earthworms (11-120 ind m(-2)), Dermaptera (0-35 ind m(-2)), Coleoptera (3-24 ind m(-2)) and Chilopoda (0-43 ind m(-2)) were the main taxa. The termite population was very poor (3-4 ind m(-2)). The density of nematofauna was also heterogeneous (268-805 ind 100 g(-1) of soil). Heterogeneity between zones was also reflected in the density of the functional groups, mainly soil engineers, detritivores and predators for macrofauna and bacterial feeders, and phytoparasites for nematofauna. The weeded circular zone around the palm had the highest soil nutrient content (P, K, Ca, Mg, C-org CEC, base saturation). Its biodiversity was average but it contained the highest density of earthworms and nematofauna. Possible relationships between chemicals and biological groups in the food web are discussed.
Carron, M.P.; Auriac, Q.; Snoeck, D.; Villenave, C.; Blanchart, E.; Ribeyre, F.; Marichal, R.; Darminto, M.; Caliman, J.P

Source: European Journal of Soil Biology, Volume 66: 24 - 31, 2015
Rachis Nutrient Concentrations of Different Oil Palm Genotypes as Affected by Irrigation and Terrain
Abstract: Four clonal oil palm materials namely AVROS, Yangambi, La Me and NIFOR, and two DxP hybrid Yangambi have been planted on terraced and non-terraced contours that are subjected to irrigated and non-irrigated conditions. Under favourable growing environment, i.e., through irrigation, and to some extent favourable terrain of undulating plain, the palms were able to retain higher rachis nutrient concentrations, and subsequently had larger petiole cross-section and exhibited higher rachis nutrient contents. There were significant differences in all rachis nutrient concentrations for all of the planting materials for both terrain and irrigation conditions except for sulphur (S) nutrient. Previous study revealed that leaf potassium (K) concentration for DxP hybrid Yangambi-DQ8 was consistently lower than AVROS-A122 by almost 15%-20% in all the growing conditions. In contrast, the rachis nutrient concentrations for both materials were comparable. In fact, DxP Yangambi-DQ8, retained higher rachis K content (by 22%) due to larger petiole cross-section (PCS) as compared to that of AVROS-A122. The poor yielding materials, appeared to contain lower nutrient concentrations particularly those of magnesium (Mg), chlorine (Cl) and calcium (Ca). The present fertiliser regime is able to sustain high yields and capable of producing more than 10.5 t ha(-1) yr(-1) of total economic product (TEP) without the need for additional fertiliser inputs. Therefore, the understanding of rachis nutrient behaviour on different oil palm genotypes is crucial to produce sustainable oil yield in the near future. Lee, C.T.; Rahman, Z.A.; Hanafi, M.M.; Ishak, C.F.; Norizan, M.S.; Tan, C.C.; Yusof, M.S.M.

Source: Journal of Oil Palm Research, Volume 26 (2): 146 - 153, 2014
Profitability and implications of cocoa intensification on carbon emissions in Southern Cameroun
Abstract: The present study evaluated profitability of some models of cocoa farms and analyzed the relationship between cocoa yield, income and carbon stored in traditional cocoa agroforests to discuss implications of cocoa intensification on carbon emissions in Cameroun. Surveys on establishment, management practices and marketing were conducted in 49 cocoa farms along a gradient of population density, forest cover and market access, and combined with data on carbon stock and trees species inventories. Traditional cocoa farms were stratified according to rehabilitation practices of farms (no rehabilitation, replacing dead/senescent cocoa plants in the farm or extending the farm by adding young plants around the old plots). Results showed that traditional cocoa agroforests are managed under high trees shade and present high carbon stock levels (average of 64 trees/ha of large tree diameter and about 94 tonC/ha). Management is based on an intensive use of family labor and there is little consistency in the use of inputs (as planting material, fertilizers and pesticides). Profitability analysis using net present value indicated that farms rehabilitated by replacement of cocoa trees were more profitable. Intensified systems are more profitable at the various discount rates considered, with up to 50 % cocoa yield increase but with less tree shade (about 40 trees/ha). Structural and productive parameters of the system showed a high variability and it was not possible to assess a clear relationship between carbon stock, yield, and incomes to clearly delineate tradeoffs. Under persistent poverty conditions and with no major intervention to support inputs purchase, suitable designs for intensification pathways should focus on good practices such as shade management, quality of associated trees, use of improved planting materials released by the research. Magne, A.N.; Nonga, N.E.; Yemefack, M.; Robiglio, V.

Source: Agroforestry Systems, Volume 88 (6): 1133 - 1142, 2014
Nutrient stocks in litterfall and litter in cocoa agroforests in Brazil
Abstract: To compare the internal balances of nutrients and the rates of nutrient cycling across nine cocoa agroforestry systems consisting of various combination of soil types (Latosols and Cambisols), production systems (cabruca and Erythrina glauca-shade) and fertilization regimes in southern Bahia, Brazil.
We measured nutrient stocks in litter fall production, in the accumulated litter and fruits. The internal nutrient balance for various simulations was obtained by the following expressions: (1) Balance 1 = litter - fruit (seeds and husks) and (2) Balance 2 = (litter + husks) - seeds. Annual litter decomposition coefficients (k) and subsequent potential of nutrient release were also investigated. The data were analyzed by principal components analysis and by Pearson correlations.
There was a high degree of dissimilarity among the cocoa agrosystems in relation to the nutrient cycling and the internal nutrient balance. The mean annual litterfall production ranged from 4.6 to 8.5 Mg/ha, and the amount of accumulated litter ranged from 7.7 to 16.8 Mg/ha. The results showed significant differences in quality among litter from cocoa agroforests; the decomposition coefficient of litter and the subsequent nutrient release were regulated by the litter quality. In general, the cocoa-erythrina system presented a higher capacity to recycle nutrients compared to the cocoa-cabruca system, with the cocoa-erythrina system having the largest transfer rate of nutrients through litterfall, high values for the decomposition coefficient of litter and the lowest values for the Mean Residence Time of nutrients. Cocoa tree leaves functioned as a sink of nutrients, while shade tree leaves functioned predominantly as a source. The nutritional reserves of litter + cocoa fruit husks, with respect only to the nutrients exported in the seeds, the balance was positive for all nutrients (N, P, K, Ca and Mg) in all agroforests, which emphasizes the potential productive capacity of these agroforests to sustain the estimated production in different harvest cycles.
The internal balance of nutrients reflects an agroforests's productive capacity, which accumulated litter and cocoa fruit husks may be important nutrient sources that could enable the development of fertilizer recommendation systems aimed at increasing the efficiency of fertilizer use and at maintaining soil fertility in cocoa agroforests. Therefore, further research is needed to develop nutritional balance systems integrating litter + fruits stock and other nutrient pathways (e.g., soil quality, biological N fixation, leaching), which were not measured, for making recommendations regarding liming and fertilizers that are suitable for highly complex biological agrosystems, such as cocoa agroforests that have low levels of elements exported during seed production. Fontes, A.G.; Gama-Rodrigues, A.C.; Gama-Rodrigues, E.F.; Sales, M.V.S.; Costa, M.G.; Machado, R.C.R.

Source: Plant and Soil , Volume 383 (1-2): 313 - 335, 2014
Trade-offs between crop intensification and ecosystem services: the role of agroforestry in cocoa cultivation
Abstract: Research published in this special issue on cocoa agroforestry illustrates the multifunctional role of shade trees for sustaining cocoa production and improving farmers' livelihoods, and addresses trade-offs between higher cocoa yield and the provision of ecosystem services to local households and global society. Indeed, the use of diverse shade in cocoa cultivation is threatened by a new drive towards crop intensification. The removal of shade trees diminishes smallholders' ability to adapt to global change driven by demographic pressure, food insecurity, cocoa price volatility and climate change. Some forms of crop intensification may reduce ecological resilience of cocoa production systems, making adaptation strategies, combining shade trees with innovative management practices, essential for sustaining cocoa yield. Managing trade-offs between yield and environmental services at the cocoa plot and landscape scales requires a multi-disciplinary approach to identify key management options that goes beyond the artificially polarized debates around intensified versus traditional agroforestry practices, or more generally, land-sparing versus land-sharing strategies. The global challenge facing the cocoa sector today is how to increase cocoa production to meet growing demand, without expanding the area under cocoa. This means finding sustainable ways to maintain cocoa production within today's producing regions, particularly West Africa, through a series of technical innovations geared towards smallholders. Inappropriate intensification may result in heavy deforestation on new pioneer fronts, such as the Congo basin, and existing cocoa being replaced either by other agricultural commodities, or by less resilient and less environmentally friendly production practices. Vaast, P.; Somarriba, E

Source: Agroforestry Systems Volume 88 (6): 947 - 956, 2014
Contribution of cocoa agroforestry systems to family income and domestic consumption: looking toward intensification
Abstract: While the potential of agroforestry products to contribute to rural livelihoods is well-recognized, the quantification of their yields, incomes, and value for domestic consumption (VDC) and knowledge about their relationships with biodiversity are still scarce. This information is crucial for choosing the best strategy for growing cocoa in tropical landscapes while conserving biodiversity and enhancing ecosystem services. We analyzed the contribution of cocoa agroforestry farming to the incomes and domestic consumption of small farmers' families in 179 cocoa agroforestry systems (CAFS) (254 ha) in five Central American countries. The two hypotheses were: (1) agroforestry products are as important as cocoa in contributing to livelihoods, (2) the typology of CAFS determines the relationships between socioeconomic indicators and yield, biodiversity, and structure of the shade canopy, as well as the relationships between plant species richness and cocoa yield. We quantified the yields of agroforestry products and their contribution to net income, cash flow, and family benefits and developed a typology of CAFS production to evaluate relationships for each CAFS cluster. The main agroforestry products other than cocoa were bananas, oranges, peach palm, other fruits, and timber, which generated modest cash incomes but high VDC at low cash costs, thus contributing to family savings and food security. Timber volumes and harvest rates were low but significant increase was deemed feasible. The contribution of the set of agroforestry products to family benefits was similar or higher than cocoa, depending on the typology of the CAFS. Intensified highly diverse-dense CAFS demonstrated remarkably higher yields, net income, cash flow, and family benefits, and had more synergetic relationships than extensive CAFS and traditional highly diverse-dense CAFS, which showed more trade-offs. Our findings point to intensified highly diverse-dense CAFS as feasible for farming within a land-sparing strategy. Further research is needed to better understand the mechanisms that could regulate synergies or trade-offs to improve this type of intensification. Cerda, R.; Deheuvels, O.; Calvache, D.; Niehaus, L.; Saenz, Y.; Kent, J.; Vilchez, S.; Villota, A.; Martinez, C.; Somarriba, E.

Source: Agroforestry Systems, Volume 88 (6): 957 - 981, 2014
Farmer attitudes and intentions towards trees in cocoa (Theobroma cacao L.) farms in Cote d'Ivoire
Abstract: Cocoa yields in Cote d'Ivoire are low and falling each year, partly as a result of full-sun cropping systems. Thus, interest is now high in establishing sustainable cocoa agroforestry systems through the reintroduction of shade trees. This article uses data collected from a sample of 400 cocoa farmers in the Soubre region of Cote d'Ivoire to analyze farmers' current and intention to plant trees in their cocoa farms in the future and the motivation for their decision. Logit regressions are used to assess the various determinants of current tree planting behaviour and future adoption intention. Results show that both current and likelihood of deliberately planting trees with cocoa in the future is significantly affected by extension and certification programs, severity of diseases affecting cocoa, and geographic zone. Future intentions to associate trees with cocoa are further influenced by the age of the farmers, household size and the average age of the cocoa farm. To increase the adoption of tree planting in cocoa fields there is the need to intensify extension messages on the benefit of shade trees in cocoa farms especially in areas where adoption intention is still low. Where awareness is high, adoption can be increased through the supply of seedlings and provision of specific trainings on planting density and management techniques to ensure that agroforestry has the maximum positive effect. Gyau, A.; Smoot, K.; Kouame, C.; Diby, L.; Kahia, J.; Ofori, D.

Source: Agroforestry Systems, Volume 88 (6): 1035 - 1045, 2014
Superior Effect of Compost Derived from Palm Oil Mill By-Products as a Replacement for Inorganic Fertilisers Applied to Oil Palm
Abstract: Trials by Sumatra Bioscience have shown that high quality compost can be produced by composting empty oil palm fruit bunches with oil mill effluent in an open windrow system over 25 days. Fifteen tonnes of the final product typically contains 105 kg N, 16 kg P, 168 kg K and 26 kg Mg, which is close to the average nutrient levels applied to oil palm in Sumatra as inorganic fertiliser per year, except for P which is lower in the compost. Thus, compost applied alone clearly has the potential to replace the inorganic fertilisers usually applied to oil palm. Two trials have been carried out to compare the effectiveness of compost and inorganic fertilisers applied to oil palm on a typical volcanic ash soil in North Sumatra and to determine the optimal rate and method of application of the compost.
The first trial tested a factorial combination of three rates of compost, urea, rock phosphate and muriate of potash. The highest rate of compost (10 t ha(-1) yr(-1)) applied alone increased the FFB yield from 23.1 up to 26.8 t ha(-1) yr(-1) over a three-year period, which is an increase of 0.37 t ha(-1) yr(-1) FFB per tonne of compost applied each year. A similar yield was achieved with 2 kg urea plus 1 kg rock phosphate (there was no response to K fertiliser), which based on the nutrient content of the two materials, indicates that the N and P in the compost were 66% and 37% more effective than the nutrients in the inorganic fertiliser (and confirms that the P content in the compost is more than adequate). The greater efficiency of compost compared to the inorganic fertilisers in supplying N and P to the oil palms was also confirmed by the higher recovery of these nutrients into the palm fronds. The highest yield of 28.7 t ha(-1) yr(-1) in this trial was achieved with 10 t ha(-1) yr(-1) compost plus 2 kg urea and 2 kg rock phosphate, indicating that if only compost is applied, the highest rate will be needed to achieve the optimal yield.
In the second trial, compost alone was tested at incremental rates of up to 20 t ha(-1) yr(-1), applied as a patch between the avenues and as 1, 2 and 3 m bands down the avenues. The optimal yield over three years was achieved with 15 t ha(-1) yr(-1) compost, which increased FFB production from 26.9 to 32.6 t ha(-1) yr(-1); which is an increase of 0.38 t ha(-1) yr(-1) FFB per tonne of compost applied per year and this is in very close agreement with the response recorded in the first trial. There were no significant differences due to the different methods of application of the compost. As in the first trial, N and P nutrient contents in the fronds were very significantly increased by the compost, but not K, due to a high K nutrient reserve level in the soil.
The cost of producing 1 t of compost by the windrow method and applying it in the field in Lonsum estates has been calculated as USD 10, so the application of 15 t ha(-1) of compost in the second trial would cost USD 150. Application of inorganic fertilisers at the same nutrient rates as 15 t compost ha(-1) yr(-1) at 65% moisture content is approximately twice as expensive as compost. Taking into account the greater efficiency of compost in supplying nutrients, replacement of inorganic fertilisers with compost would save the costs of inorganic fertilisers almost three times as much. However in the trial area, K and Mg fertilisers were not required, so savings by switching to compost at this particular location would be less. Tohiruddin, L.; Foster, H.L.

Source: Journal of Oil Palm Research, Volume 25 (1): 123 - 137, 2014
New Entries to the IPNI Library
We have also updated our SEAP Reference Database with references dealing mainly with the following topics: oil palm, cocoa, and nutrient and fertilizer management. For a complete listing of these references, please click on the attachment below.
New Entries to RM June 2015.pdf
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