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Chocolate forests: Can cocoa help save the Amazon?

These crops could help mitigate the effects of clear-cutting that has ripped some 430,000 square kilometers from the Amazon rain forest since the 1980s.

Young boy takes a drink of homemade cocoa in Brazil

For decades, ranchers have been the engine of clear-cutting in the Amazon rainforest that has rendered an area nearly the size of Spain treeless. Environmentalists have argued the practice destroys wildlife habitat and undermines the planet’s ability to absorb carbon dioxide that causes global warming.

“Besides being a means of avoiding deforestation, cocoa plantations favor the local, regional and national economy,” the international environmental group The Nature Conservancy said on its website.

The young trees will also bring change to global cocoa markets. Brazil’s National Association of the Cocoa Processing Industry (AIPC) expects the surge in planting to help double the country’s output of the raw material in chocolate by 2028 to 400,000 tonnes a year. That increase would raise global output by about 5 percent.

The renewed planting could make Brazil one of the world’s top three cocoa growers again after the sector was decimated in the 1990s by a crop fungus called witches’ broom.

Author: Marcy Nicholson, Marcelo Teixeira
This article is incomplete. Click here to read the full text from its original source, Reuters
Photo Credit: Julio Pantoja / World Bank (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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