Human Ecology

, Volume 46, Issue 2, pp 159–170 | Cite as

Is kola Tree the Enemy of Cocoa? A Critical Analysis of Agroforestry Recommendations Made to Ivorian Cocoa Farmers

  • Elsa SanialEmail author
  • François Ruf


Cocoa production in Côte d’Ivoire (40% of the world market) has tripled in the past 35 years even as the country’s forests are depleted. The chocolate industry, concerned about production so concentrated in one country and its dependence on the forest, is trying to convince smallholders to obtain ‘cocoa certification.’ This scheme, while couched in environmental terms, aims to increase cocoa yields and recommends the removal of kola trees from cocoa plots. This advice, ultimately largely ignored by the cocoa farmers, reflects a lack of understanding of farmer practices and kola tree’s economic, social, and cultural role. The chocolate industry reveals its vision for agroforestry as limited to production and demonstrates an unwillingness to participate in the smallholder-driven innovation system that is transforming Ivorian cocoa cultivation.


Kola tree Cocoa certification Agroforestry Chocolate Industry Environmental NGOs Ecological services Côte d’Ivoire 



This study was funded by AFD/CIRAD (CIRAD/DOEIDOD/ARB/2015-022).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Université Jean Moulin Lyon 3 EVS-CRGALyonFrance
  2. 2.CIRAD c/o Université Houphouët-BoignyAbidjanCôte d’Ivoire

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