Cacao is one of the most economically important crops grown in tropical regions, but its cultivation drives a cycle of environmental and financial deprivation. The pressure for short-term yield drives farmers to adopt monoculture systems with high input dependency. But this system is unsustainable, with soil degradation causing yields to drop within ten years of farming. The associated income loss pushes farmers to deforest more fertile land and restart the cycle. As a result, significant biodiversity loss, deforestation, pollution, and poor labour practices are associated with cacao cultivation, while yields have plateaued.
This system must change, with cacao demand expected to double from 2010-2050. Commitments made by both key industry players and governments have codified this need. At Deep Science Ventures, we see an opportunity to achieve a just transition to sustainable and profitable cacao with innovative solutions that can enhance smallholder productivity and profits, and enroll them as agents of biodiversity enhancement.