Yes, it is advisable to provide shade trees for growing cocoa trees.
The cocoa tree will make optimum use of any light available and has been traditionally grown under shade. Its natural environment is the Amazonian forest, which provides natural shade trees. Shading is indispensable in a cocoa tree's early years to ensure the right form of growth.
The lack of shade trees can result in cocoa trees being more susceptible to attacks from sap sucking insects or capsids (also known as mirids).
Cocoa trees grown under thin forest cover usually require less pruning than cocoa trees grown without shade.
Bananas can provide shade for young trees, though this shade does not usually continue into maturity due to the short life span of the banana. Growing bananas also provides the farmer with another cash crop. Another tree often used for intercropping is coconut.
Shade can also be provided by thinning the forest or by planting trees, such as Leucaena leucocephala and Gliricidia sepium, to provide permanent shade. Some shade trees are leguminous and therefore return nitrogen to the soil.
Wood, G.A.R. and Lass, R.A., Cocoa. Longman, 4th edition, 1985
Mossu, G. Cocoa. CTA/Macmillan Press, 1992
Dand, R., The International Cocoa Trade. Woodhead Publishing, 1993
International Cocoa Organization
London W5 1YY
Tel: +44 (0)20 8991 6000
Fax: +44 (0)20 8997 4372
The ICCO International Cocoa Agreement is available to download in Acrobat PDF format.
The procedures for becoming a member of the International Cocoa Organization are provided in Articles 52 to 57 of the International Cocoa Agreement, 2010.