When visiting Ecuador with the Rainforest Alliance, we visited a number of cacao farms and facilities, to learn the difference between conventional production and Rainforest Alliance Certified production, and to see it in action. It isn't just about how it is grown, but it is a continuum from clearing, planting and growing, through drying and marketing, that yields better cacao, more money for the farmer, more habitat for wildlife and less pressure to chop down more rainforest.
In a typical cacao plantation with hybrid cacao, there is no shade, no diversity. The land is clearcut, the soil tilled with insecticides and the trees planted in rows.
Credit: Lloyd Alter