Submitted to: World Agroforestry Congress
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/31/2009
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: The Cacao Cabruca Agroforestry system of production was developed by farmers in Southern Bahia probably in the beginning of the 19th century. To establish such system, farmers in the Atlantic rain forest region selectively maintained around 75 adult individual native trees per hectare, removed the other trees and planted cacao under the shade of these selected trees. Currently Bahia, Brazil has around 400,000 hectares of cabruca agroforestry, which has the floristic composition of native and exotic species. The main economic return of these Cacao Cabruca Agroforestry systems is originated by selling cacao beans, but this system also provides other indirect benefits, although these benefits are often not valued. Unfortunately the cabruca system is being threatened by low income/hectare, and is rapidly being replaced by pasture and other uses. Studies presented here give an overview of the agronomical, environmental and social benefits of cabruca. Surveys carried out recently showed that Cacao Cabruca Agroforestry system is diversified system that has around 93 trees and 693 cacao plants per hectare and can consist of 227 different tree species. As the number of trees per hectare increases the number of cacao plants per hectare decreases. Compared to early surveys, the number of trees per hectare in the present survey has increased from 75 to 93 and such an increases in tree density amounts to 37 million trees in 400,000 hectares of cacao cabruca systems. At the same time the number of cacao plants has decreased from 723 to 693 per hectare. This amounts to reduction of 12 millions cacao plants in 400,000 hectares of Cacao Cabruca Agroforestry system. Cabruca enhances nutrient cycling and biological nitrogen fixation, retains soil moisture and organic matter, controls weeds and reduces soil erosion. In these systems we observed the presence of 17 nitrogen fixing tree species and the presence of other tree species that provide a mix of valuable goods such as timber, firewood, seeds, natural medicines and fruits. Cabruca also provides valuable environmental and biodiversity conservation benefits such as: watershed protection, habitat for endemic and threatened animal species, creates corridors between patches of native forest for wild fauna, and in-situ conservation of threatened and valuable timber trees species.