From monocropping of cacao to biodiversity-based farming


Asociación ANAI’s Talamanca Initiative in Costa Rica promotes sustainable farming practices in the rural communities in one of the most biodiverse places on earth.

The Talamanca region of Costa Rica is home to one-third of the country’s indigenous people. This very small region, 0.002% of the world’s land mass, is estimated to host 4% of the planet’s plants and animals. In the 1980’s, the biodiversity of Talamanca was threatened by overreliance on monoculture cacao farming, leading to a vicious cycle of forest clearance and loss of soil productivity. At the same time, the population of Talamanca ranked the lowest in many key socioeconomic indicators, including human development. For over 30 years, ANAI, a local NGO, has been developing the Talamanca Initiative. Family farms in more than 50 communities have shifted towards agroecological practices, which has led to the creation of one of the world’s largest organic farming cooperatives. An Educational Farm has also been set up to teach agroecological farming and animal husbandry practices, and community-based conservation has been complemented with cultural tourism initiatives. The Talamanca Initiative acts as a model for other communities who wish to move away from monoculture farming and towards a more diversified model.