Building a coconut and cocoa agroforestry system in the Dominican Republic
Nagua, Dominican Republic
About the project:
In the northeast of the Dominican Republic, the Ambrosia farm is graced by fertile soils and natural springs that a nearby protected rainforest provides. This 30-year-old coconut farm, now run by Initiative 20x20 financial partner 12Tree, covers 2,132 hectares. 12Tree's aim is to rehabilitate the coconut palm plantation to boost productivity while intercropping 800 hectares of fine flavor, organic cocoa that the coconut trees shade. This integated agroforestry system will be the largest organic cocoa plantation in the Dominican Republic and among the largest in the world, employing 300 people by 2021.
The farm is split between a mechanized production area, a non-mechanized production area and protected natural forests. A modern fertigation process, which injects fertilizers into the irrigation system, will be installed in the mechanized area to minimize fertilizer use and maximize production. In parallel, new and higher-yielding coconut palms will be planted next to the existing older palms. The older coconut palms will continue to produce nuts until the new palms start producing. The entire project will be certified organic and will produce premium cocoa for export, as well as a range of premium coconut products, such as virgin coconut oil, coconut water, and sugar, to be sold domestically and abroad.
Central to 12Tree's business model and sustainability approach is the preservation of nearby natural forests. By conserving 843 hectares, 12Tree can rely on the important ecosystem services, like natural pest control, wind protection, and water flow regulation, that boost production in the cultivated areas of the farm – at absolutely no cost. By integrating biodiversity conservation into its business model, 12Tree sets itself up for long-term economic success.