MS.c Thesis

“Comparing the productivity of cacao agroforestry systems in North Siberut”

Agriculture expansion, agriculture intensification and logging are among the main causes of deforestation and forest degradation. Their effects can also be observed on Siberut Island, Indonesia. Considered as one of the global hot spots of biodiversity, Siberut is the habitat of four endemic primate species as well as home of the ancestral Mentawai culture. However, in recent years, the local communities have started cultivating cash crops, such as cacao, on formerly forested lands, as a strategy to raise income. With the aim to investigate the cacao cultivation in the village of Politcioman, this study combined qualitative and quantitative methods, such as participatory observation, semi-structured interviews and field inventory. Results revealed that in the last two decades 70 % of households have adopted cacao cultivation, summing up to 110 hectares of cacao fields in the research area. The majority cultivated cacao under full-sun conditions, establishing cacao farms in recently cleared forest through slash and burn. After a short flourishing period of cocoa production, the yields have decreased rapidly forcing farmers to abandon their orchards. Pest problems, lack of knowledge and inappropriate management were suggested as the main causes of the cacao crisis in Politcioman. Nevertheless, despite cacao cultivation seemed not to be the panacea for Politcioman farmers, there is the potential to improve farmers’ income, while conserving forest resources, thorough the promotion of appropriate cacao agroforestry practices.

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