Juan Agama1; Freddy Amores 1; Bertus Eskes2; Alfonso Vasco1; Jhonny Zambrano1
1Instituto Nacional Autónomo de Investigaciones Agropecuarias, Estación Experimental Tropical Pichilingue, Programa Nacional de Cacao ycafé. P.O. Box 24, Quevedo Provincia de Los Ríos, Ecuador. E-mail iniap_Pichilingue@yahoo.com
2 CFC/ICCO/IPGRI Project Coordinator, c/o INIBAP, Parc Scientifique Agropolis 2, Montpellier, FRANCE
Base study to implement a participative research approach to select superior cocoa clones in three traditional cocoa producing areas in Ecuador
The introduction of participative researchconcepts is expected to increase the efficiency when selecting for superior cocoa clones. As part of the CFC/ICCO/Bioversity project on “Cocoa Productivity and Quality Improvement: a Participatory Approach” a survey was conducted to characterize the socioeconomic environment and cocoa production systems in three traditional cocoa production areas. This information will be used as a valuable inputin the process of participatory selection of new cocoa clones adapted to these areas. The study took place during 2005 in the Northern area (province of Esmeraldas), the “Piedemonte” area in the central part (province of Bolivar, next to the Andes range), and the “Llanuras” (provinces of Guayas and Los Ríos), which is a flat area further south of the same central part. Thirty small farms wereselected in each area and a survey made up of 58 questions along six main groups of indicators was applied. The indicators grouped socioeconomic traits, characteristics of the cocoa fields, factors limiting productivity, intensity of the technology applied, current planting material and farmers’ interest in new cocoa varieties. Regarding the socioeconomic dimension results showed that as an averagecocoa farmers are oldest (87% > 55 years) in the Llanuras, youngest (38% > 55 years) in the Northern area, while having an intermediate age (26% > 55 years) in the Piedemonte area. Farmers have the highest level of literacy (50% > 6 school years) in the Piedemonte area and the smallest number in the Llanuras (3% > 6 school years). Most own and exploit their farms in the Northern and Llanurasareas. Some 25% do not own but rent the cocoa fields in the Piedemonte area (true owners live in nearby urban areas). Largest cocoa fields are found in the Llanuras (12% > 10 hectares) followed by the Northern part (3% > 10 hectares). Some 25% of the cocoa is grown without shade in the Llanuras, 13% in the Piedemonte area and only 6% in the Northern area. The number of cocoa trees per land unit is thelowest (37% farms < 400 plants per hectare) in the Northern area and the highest in the Piedemonte area. The oldest cocoa fields (25% > 50 years old) are also found in the Northern area and the youngest in the Piedemonte area. More diversity (presence of other crops in the farm) is found in the Northern area. The presence of diseases was reported as the main factor limiting productivity; itsimpact is largest in the Northern area (more humid) and lowest in the Llanuras (less humidity and shade). Water stress came out as one of the main factors limiting productivity in the Llanuras. Plant pruning (for maintenance and sanitation) is mostly absent in the Llanuras (no pruning in 50% of the farms) while this practice is common (no pruning in 12% of the farms) in the Piedemonte area. Fertilizeruse is practically unknown in all areas but the situation is more critical in the Northern part. Most of the plantations come from seed collected in the farmers plantations (North), from commercial nurseries and INIAP (Llanuras and Piedemonte). In the Northern area a large part of the traditional plantations show Criollo-like traits, whereas in the other two areas the Nacional and, to a lesser...