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University of Vermont

Publication Date

Spring 2012

Program Name

Brazil: Amazon Resource Management and Human Ecology


Cacao production is growing in the newly opened forest frontiers of the Trans- Amazonian Highway in central Pará, the second biggest producer region in Brazil. This region has recently witnessed the growth of some of the first organic cocoa cooperatives in the country, initially formed in 2006. Cacao presents a unique option for agricultural livelihoods, because grows well in its native habitat under the shade of Amazon forest species, and there is a growing market demand for cocoa. This study aims to assess the organic certification’s effects on tree diversity and cocoa production in this Amazon frontier, together indicating sustainable livelihoods. Through structured interviews and farm visits, this study analyzes the economic stability and environmental sustainability of a sample of organic certified and non-certified farmers in the largest Transamazon cooperative region, Medicilândia, Pará. For large-scale properties, the non-certified, conventional producers are found to produce more cacao revenue than the large certified producers, yet they have lower forest species diversity than the certified producers. In small-scale production systems, the organic certified farmers had both greater cacao revenue and greater species diversity. Several issues with achieving the organic price premium currently prevent some organic producers from earning more for their beans. This study recommends cooperative restructuring and enhanced financial planning in order for organic certification to be viable for long-term sustainable livelihood development.


Natural Resources Management and Policy | Sustainability


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