A recent report predicts a significant drop in cocoa production in Africa by 2030 due to climate change. How would life be without chocolate?
You can read the full Economist story below, or at the above link, and also fund out what the the Climate Change Task Force says on the need for urgent action to respond to the realities climate change.
Ghana: Hot Choc
“LOOK at this one,” says Doris Sor, a cocoa farmer in western Ghana, pointing to a tiny sapling fighting its way to the sun. It is not a new cocoa shoot but mahogany.
In the wild, cocoa trees grow under taller trees, which protect them from the scorching sun. But in Ghana as in neighbouring Ivory Coast, which together account for more than half the global supply, cocoa is grown as a monoculture.
“I had a lot of trees on my farm, but I cut and burned them. I thought they brought diseases, were a nuisance and took the place of cocoa,” says the mother of four, who owns a 4-acre farm in Eteso. “I didn’t know about the importance of shade trees until I joined the group.”
Vast swathes of forests across the country have been cut over past decades to make room for cocoa. The loss of forests (Ghana has the world’s fastest deforestation rate) has exacerbated the impact of climate change, leaving cocoa vulnerable to increases in temperature and changes in rainfall. A recent International Centre for Tropical Agriculture report predicts a massive drop in cocoa production in west Africa by 2030 due to climate change.
Sor and farmers from 36 communities in the Juabeso/Bia district are part of a project to produce climate-smart cocoa, claimed to the the world’s first. The $1m, three-year pilot collaboration between Rainforest Alliance (RA), an environmental organization, and Olam International, agricultural company, offers financial incentive to the farmers.
Sor and representatives from the participating communities were shown how to create a microclimate, which can reduce the effects of climate change, by planting thousands of native trees on their farms and on fallow lands. The trees protect the soil, shield cocoa from the sun, increase biodiversity and sequester carbon.
Attending bi-monthly training sessions, Sor also learned good agricultural practices, such as composting, pruning and phasing out chemical pesticides. Her land used to yield about 20 bags of cocoa beans; now it produces 30. And she claims to have reduced her costs between 20% and 50% by using fewer agrochemicals.
Some also aim at diversification. Because cocoa is seasonal, farmers have no source of revenue over many months. To earn a living during the lean months, farmers have been trained to develop small forest enterprises, such as beekeeping.
To make the project sustainable, RA has created landscape management boards, comprising of two members of each communities, village chiefs and elders and RA representatives. They meet regularly to discuss matters relevant to the scheme. Each board has set up a bank account and members learned accountancy.