Sustainable cocoa and coffee

The hidden treasure among cocoa trees

September 24, 2020
Judith Vanegas

There is a hidden treasure among cocoa trees that producers and consumers are just beginning to discover, thanks to the research titled "Nutritional Value of Foods Produced in Cocoa Pilot Plots under Dynamic Agroforestry Systems".

This research gives insights into the nutritional value of more than 30 foods, including legumes, tubers, fruits, vegetables, herbs and condiments, grown on cocoa farms in Honduras. As such, it provides information on their content of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fibres, and other properties, which help strengthen the immune system and could contribute to strengthening the health of cocoa-producing families.

The rambutan, for example, is a fruit with a rich flavour, traditionally cultivated among cocoa plants. According to the study, it is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. It benefits health and protects against cardiovascular diseases, neurodegenerative disorders and so on.

Cocoa itself is also a highly energetic food. Its high antioxidant content helps reduce bad cholesterol, insulin resistance helps to prevent diabetes, and it improves circulation and helps maintain stable blood pressure.

According to data from the Global Hunger Index (2016), Honduras has the third highest rate of chronic undernutrition and the seventh highest for the total undernourished population in Latin America.

Our intention in this study is to provide cocoa-producing families with nutritional information about the products they grow, what benefits they can provide for their own consumption, without having to make additional costs, and even about how they can sell or exchange products with other families. Lourdes Zamora, Rikolto Project Coordinator

The study was carried out with the crops that are in the pilots of six plots under the Dynamic Agroforestry System with cocoa developed in partnership by the Chocolats Halba Foundation, Rikolto and the PROCACAHO programme in Honduras.

The research was carried out by the Knowledge Management Project of the cocoa value chain in Central America (GESCON), which is implemented by Rikolto with funding from the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC) through the nutritionist Italia Laitano.

The Swiss company Chocolats Halba promotes in Honduras the technology of producing cocoa under Dynamic Agroforestry Systems with the aim of improving the production conditions of organic farms and producing other foods.

"We seek to improve household incomes through sustainable production systems that will ensure not only organic cocoa production but also food and nutrition security and other income through the production of cocoa-related crops," says Luis Velex, Manager of Chocolats Halba.

"A well-informed person makes better decisions," the saying goes. That's why today more than ever, in this time of COVID-19 , cocoa families need to know the nutritional value of the food on their DAF plots, which strengthens the immune system and enhances the health of their families. This treasure among cocoa trees is in everyone’s hands and deserves to be tapped.

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