Because of low revenues farmers cannot invest in the maintenance of existing tress or in planting new trees on their plantations. Or, instead of replacing old and diseased cocoa trees, they often use new farmland for cocoa - at the expense of sustainable, ecological and diversified farming. By intensive farming they wear out the soil and are then forced to put even more land under cocoa, sometimes clearing rainforest lands. This has implications not only for the environment, but also to farmers´ income. Up to 40% of the cocoa crop is lost every year due to incorrect maintenance.
The use of pesticides and chemical fertilisers is promoted in cocoa cultivation, but lack of knowledge leads to misuse or overuse of the chemicals. These practices worsen the quality of local water resources and lead to soil contamination. Furthermore, when areas of rainforests are cleared to extend cocoa production, this poses a threat to biodiversity.
In conclusion, instead of increasing farmers´ revenues, current cocoa farming practices can cause lower yields and harm the environment. Such practices are therefore unsustainable.
Besides, cocoa farmers’ income often depends on the sole cultivation of cocoa instead of on several crops, which deepens their dependency on the price of cocoa and has a negative ecological impact by harming biodiversity.
Overall, cocoa farmers lack training and guidance on sustainable and diversified agriculture to improve productivity, to increase the quality of their cocoa beans and practice agriculture in ways which are not harmful to the environment.