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Background Ivory Coast has lost +90% of its forests and continues to lose more to cocoa production each year. Painstakingly clear is the necessity for transitioning conventional agriculture practices to regenerative ones. Regenerative practices restore soil and watershed health by supporting greater spectrums of biodiversity and with more diversity comes more complexities. Moving from monoculture, linear and very predictable systems; a transition to regenerative agriculture adds new dimensions of complications. While developing agroforestry system designs for cocoa plantations in Ivory Coast, it became increasingly apparent how even high-level farmer segmentation for broad system designs were barely scraping the surface of smallholder farmers’ needs. Objective Our objective was to help smallholder cocoa farmers be investment ready by drafting several regenerative agroforestry system designs with transition plans, business models, and financial models. Methods Methods included focus group surveys, one-on-one surveys, literary research, and subject matter expert consultations. Results The results from the data collection were revealing, diverse and multi-layered. It was incredibly challenging to try and fit +31,000 smallholder farmers which spanned across +80,000 hectares into a handful of segments. We created an eco-functional design approach that was focused on a process-and-results orientation that allowed for maximum adaptability to the farmers’ unique contexts. Conclusion This design approach was not going to be region and crop-specific as we had initially anticipated but ultimately a methodology that could be broadly useful for anywhere in the world. Regenerative agriculture can help slow climate change if we approach regenerative transition in a way that truly helps smallholder farmers and their communities.
Conference Presentation, SER2021
Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program