Investing in high-quality cocoa in Panama
About the project:
On the eastern Caribbean coast of Panama 12Tree is transforming 1,455 hectares of degraded grasslands previously used to farm cattle and grow teak into a thriving perennial agroforestry system. With the purchase of the Cuango property and its subsequent transformation thanks to a $9.5 million investment, 12Tree seeks to combine a commercially productive cocoa plantation with a sustainably managed secondary forest that produces native hardwoods for market and employs 102 people.
The farm is split between production land and forest. On the production unit, 12Tree is planting plantains, pigeon peas, nitrogen fixing trees, like the madre cacao, and timber trees, like the almendro, together to provide shade for the cocoa. These trees also protect the cocoa against wind and heavy rain, provide sustenance for pollinators and insects, and reduce fertilizer needs by 50%. 12Tree is also planting 235 hectares of mixed forest with native hardwoods in the hilly areas that are not suitable for mechanization.
The remaining 660 hectares of the farm consist of fragments of natural rainforests. 12Tree has committed to preserving these areas for wildlife conservation and the production of ecosystem services. By reforesting pastures through agroforestry, 12 Tree expects to enhance landscape connectivity and increase wildlife populations throughout the property. A recent biodiversity assessment found ocelots, pumas, anteaters, and many different bird and bats species living in and around 12Tree's forests.