Among the cocoa plantations there is a hidden treasure that producers and consumers are just beginning to discover thanks to the research “Nutritional Value of Foods Produced in the Pilot Cocoa Plots under the Dynamic Successional System (DAF)”.
This research allowed to know the nutritional contributions of more than 30 foods, including legumes, tubers, fruits, vegetables, herbs and condiments, grown in pilot plots in Honduras in crops associated with cocoa, known as DAF.
It also provides information on the nutritional value of the products due to their high content of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fibers, and other properties, which help strengthen the immune system and could contribute to strengthening the health of cocoa-producing families.
Rambutan, for example, also known as achotillo or Chinese mamón, is a fruit with a rich flavor, traditionally cultivated among cocoa plants, according to the study, it is an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer. It benefits health and protects against cardiovascular diseases, neurodegenerative disorders and cancer.
Cocoa itself is a highly energetic food. Its high content of antioxidants helps lower bad cholesterol, insulin resistance helping prevent diabetes, oxidative stress that causes cancer, improves circulation and helps keep blood pressure stable.
According to data from the Global Hunger Index (2016), Honduras has the third highest rate of chronic malnutrition and the seventh in terms of the total undernourished population in Latin America.
“Our intention with this study is to provide cocoa-producing families with nutritional information about the products they grow, what benefits they can provide for self-consumption, without having to resort to additional costs, and even that they can sell or exchange products with other families” , says Lourdes Zamora, Rikolto’s Project Coordinator.
The study was carried out with the crops that are in the pilots of six plots under the Dynamic Agroforestry System with cocoa that the Chocolats Halba Foundation, Rikolto and the PROCACAHO program in Honduras develop in partnership.
The research was carried out by the Central American Cocoa Value Chain Knowledge Management Project (GESCON), which Rikolto executes with funding from the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC) through nutritionist Italia Laitano.
The Swiss company Chocolats Halba promotes in Honduras the technology of producing cocoa under Dynamic Agroforestry Systems with the aim of improving the production conditions of organic farms and producing other foods.
“We seek to improve the income of families through sustainable production systems that allow, in addition to guaranteeing the production of organic cocoa, food and nutritional security, and other income through the production of crops associated with cocoa,” he says. Luis Velex, Manager of Chocolats Halba.
“Well-informed person makes better decisions,” goes the saying. For this reason, today more than ever, in time of COVID19, cocoa families must know the nutritional value of the foods they have in their DAF plots, which strengthen the immune system and reinforce the health of their families. That treasure among the cacao plantations is in the eyes of all and deserves to be taken advantage of
What is DAF?
In Successional Dynamic Agroforestry Systems (DAF) are production systems where cocoa cultivation is managed under agroforestry systems associated with other crops in order to produce nutritious food and at the same time improve soil fertility with nitrogen fixers, through legumes. The success of this form of production is that it combines forest species, fruit trees, agricultural plantations, forage, ornamental, medicinal, musaceous, legume and others.
More information: Luis Regalado / Chocolats Halba
Lourdes Zamora, Project Coordinator cocoa – Rikolto
Italy Laitano, Nutritionist
communication consultant GESCON- Rikolto