Shaded Coffee and Cocoa: Double Dividend for Biodiversity and Small-scale Farmers

Rosalien E. Jezeer*, Pita A. Verweij, Maria Joao Ferreira Dos Santos, René G.A. Boot

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This paper compares financial and biodiversity performance of small-scale shaded coffee and cocoa plantations versus intensified conventional ones. We conduct a meta-analysis including 23 studies on coffee and cocoa plantations over a 26 year period. Our results show that, contrary to common perceptions, profitability and cost-efficiency are higher for small-scale shaded systems. Despite the lower yields for shaded systems, the lower costs per area and higher price per kilogram of coffee or cocoa causes shaded systems to perform better financially. This finding shows that the traditional indicator ‘yield’ is an inaccurate measure of financial performance when studying diversified systems, and that the more detailed indicators as net revenue or benefit-cost ratio should be used instead. Few studies specifically reported on the relationship between biodiversity and financial performance, providing divergent results, yet various papers showed a promising optimum relationship for intermediate levels of shade. Because shaded systems are known to correlate positively with biodiversity, we postulate that they can offer competitive business opportunities for small-scale farmers, while also contributing to biodiversity conservation. Still, there is a pressing need for multidisciplinary studies to quantify financial and biodiversity performance simultaneously, and to identify opportunities for scaling up shaded systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)136-145
Number of pages10
JournalEcological Economics
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2017


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