Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Intercropping Coconut and Cacao




Growing of intercrops in coconut lands produces more food and agricultural
products, ensuring food security of the people in rural and urban areas. At the same
time, the practice generates jobs and livelihood, enhancing farm incomes and the
purchasing power of people, thus alleviating poverty in farming communities (Magat
2004). Moreover, successful farmers serve as inspiration and enterprise leaders in their
communities, eventually treating coconut farming in an agribusiness way to create
wealth and more capital resources.

Cacao (Theobroma cacao L.) is a tree crop that is highly suitable or compatible
under different production systems (intercropping or multistory farming, agroforestry,
etc). In cacao producing countries, it is grown mainly for its beans, processed into cacao
powder, cake and cocoa butter. These products are largely used in the manufacture of
chocolates, soaps, cosmetics, shampoo and other pharmaceutical products (PCARRD
2000).

Cacao is also a high value crop wherein the potential is not yet explored in our
country with an extensive area suitable for cacao growing as a monocrop or intercrop of
coconut. In fact, over 1M ha highly suitable or wet zone of coconut areas (except in
coastal areas excessively high in Na or saline soils) are suitable for coconut-cacao
intercropping. Its cultivation could promote an agro-industrial development aimed: at
value-adding export products, as well as reduction of importation of cacao beans rom
countries like Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and Malaysia (PCARRD 2000). PCARRD
mentioned that to date, more than three-fourths of the cacao beans requirement of the
country is imported from major producing countries.

Cacao, a popular, stable and marketable long-term beverage crop is widely
planted under and between stands of coconut trees. To be a compatible and productive
intercrop, cacao tree is best planted not closer than 2 meters from the base of coconut
trees, at 3 m between hills and 3 m between rows. Furthermore, where there is limited
land for cacao monocropping, the inter-spaces of coconut lands (with 8-15 meters of
spacing of coconut palms) are amenable for several rows of cacao crop. Also important,
the bio-physical environmental conditions, soil-wise, sunlight-wise and micro-climate
variation within the 70-80% space between coconut trees in a farm has been known to

be highly suitable for a coconut-cacao ecosystem.



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