The project aims as one part of three trials in tropical countries to establish a scientific basis for discussions on the performance and potential of conventional and organic agricultural production systems in Bolivia and is located in the humid lowlands of La Paz, the Alto Beni region. The valley bottom is 350 m to 490 m a.s.l. and limited by the mountain chains of the Andes (up to 2000 m a.s.l.). The natural vegetation of Alto Beni is composed of nearly evergreen humid forests. During the dry winter season more light enters the forest due to partly or total abscission of some species.
The main annual crops are upland rice, maize and cassava and are mainly for subsistence. The main perennial cash crops are citrus fruits, bananas and plantains for the market in La Paz, and cocoa (Theobroma cacao) for the national and export market. Part of the Project is the long term experiment (LTE), the other is a participatory technology development (PTD) approach. In the field trial, following treatments were defined: i) monoculture, full sun (in the production phase) with conventional management (Mono Conv), ii) monoculture, full sun (in the production phase) with organic management (Mono Org), iii) diversified, shaded agroforestry system with conventional management (AF Conv), iv) diversified, shaded, agroforestry system with organic management (AF Org), v) diversified, shaded successional agroforestry system with organic management (SAFS), and vi) fallow land (no crops) as a reference for biodiversity and soil fertility studies (BAR). For the PTD, the topics were identified at farmers’ meetings: (i) Cocoa variety testing, (ii) practices of high cocoa yielding farmers, (iii) control of pest and diseases.
Asociación de organizaciones de productores ecológicos de Bolivia (AOPEB), El Ceibo, Dachorganisation von Kakaobauern, PIAF, die Stiftung von El Ceibo, das Instituto de Ecología, Universidad La Paz (IE), Promoción e Investigación de Productos Andinos (PROINPA) and Ecotop SRL