Between today and 2050, farmland will expand by more than 740 million acres. This is an area larger than India. In tropical rainforests across the globe, commercial agriculture is the direct driver for up to a third of all deforestation.
But it doesn’t have to be this destructive.
A recent Stanford study found that alternative, sustainable agriculture techniques create just a fraction of the carbon emissions of commercial agriculture. They can also reduce the impact on biodiversity by more than three times. Very good news for the planet. The advantages don’t stop there. Agroforesty techniques like ‘shade growing’ use fewer harmful chemicals, and supports the wider ecosystem.
Agroforesty is also good news for local people. It provides a better income and an incentive to keep rainforest standing. And it’s better for the consumers, too. Shade grown coffee is vastly superior in taste and quality. It’s less
susceptible to diseases like rust, and other imperfections that affect the taste. It contains more sugars and natural oils than full-sun coffee.
Heritage cacao varieties like criollo are also grown sustainably, but only make up a small fraction of the world’s chocolate crop. They are classed as the best beans in the world, and are highly prized by chocolatiers. With the
commodity price of chocolate close to an all-time high, this is great news for small scale growers like our Asháninka partners in Peru.
All this is why growing incomes from crops like cacao and coffee using sustainable agroforestry techniques is a no-brainer for our rainforest partners. With the support of Fuel Card Services, they are outpricing and outwitting forest destruction, and providing a model for growing the future of the planet.