, Volume 64, Issue 2, pp 117-129

Land-use system modeling and analysis of shaded cacao production in Belize

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Shaded cacao (Theobroma cacao) cultivation is a tropical land-use that has potential to reduce pressure on the forest and provide additional income to smallholder growers. A land-use system (LUS) model was formulated to represent the economic returns derived from shaded cacao production practiced by smallholders in the Toledo district of Belize. Sixty scenarios were tested to elicit response of net-present-value (NPV), returns to labor, and annual returns to land (ARTL) to individual changes in 10 system parameters. Further scenarios tested the combined interactions between hardwood shade tree type, planting density, time to harvest hardwoods, cacao cultivation practice, and expected output. As a modeling exercise, LUS analysis highlights system components that government agencies, donors, NGOs, extension agents, and smallholders should target with policies, agri-silvi- culture projects, and further research. Results identify more favorable credit, labor-saving technology, better shade-management practices, grafting, and incorporating non-hardwood shade trees and laurel (Cordia alliadora) as interventions that could improve cacao financial performance and encourage adoption. At present, the model cannot predict whether smallholders would respond to recommendations and invest in shaded cacao cultivation in lieu of alternative agricultural land-uses or off-farm employment.