Expected increasing temperatures will lead to massive declines in cocoa production by 2030 in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, both in West Africa, according to climate scientists at the Colombia-based International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT).
Ghana, which is on track to achieve its one million metric tonnes of cocoa target in the last quarter of the year, will, therefore, face some gloomy days ahead.
The CIAT’s new report being contracted with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) to “Predict the impact of climate change on cocoa, cashew and cotton growing regions in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire”, observed: “More than half of the world’s chocolate comes from the cocoa plantations of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, where hundreds of thousands of small holder farmers supply lucrative fair-trade markets in developed countries.”
The report, the first of its kind on the likely effect of climate change on cocoa production in the region, anticipated that areas of cocoa suitability will begin to decline by 2030, as average temperatures increase by one degree Celsius.
It also disclosed that an expected annual temperature rise of more than two degrees Celsius by 2050 will leave Ghana and many of West Africa’s cocoa-producing areas too hot for chocolate.
Warmer conditions mean the heat-sensitive cocoa trees will struggle to get enough water during the growing season, curtailing the development of cocoa pods, containing the prized cocoa bean, the key ingredient in chocolate production, the report added.
While cocoa trees are also expected to struggle as the dry season becomes increasingly intense, by 2050, a rise of 2.3 degrees Celsius will drastically affect production in lowland regions, including the Western and Brong Ahafo Regions of Ghana.
The analyses of the report were conducted by the Decision and Policy Analyses (DAPA) programme at the CIAT, under the leadership of Dr. Peter Läderach, with the collaboration of Anton Eitzinger, Armando Martínez and Narioski Castro. The compilation of the ground data has been facilitated through the Agro Eco -Louis Bolk Institute in Ghana.
According to statistics from the International Cocoa Organisation (ICCO), in 2008/2009 world cocoa production was aboutUS$9 billion. Ivory Coast, the world’s leading producer of cocoa with 2.4 Mha, and Ghana, the second after Ivory Coast (1.5 Mha), between them produce 53% of the world’s cocoa.
Ghana produces high-quality cocoa that earns a premium price on the world market. Cocoa is an important cash crop in countries, contributing 7.5% of GDP in Côte d'Ivoire and 3.4% in Ghana in 2008.
It accounts for 70-100% of household incomes of cocoa farmers in Ghana.
Any impact of climate change on the suitability to growing cocoa in West Africa, will not only affect farmers’ livelihoods and incomes, but the national economies as well.
Half the cocoa in Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire is grown under low shade, which is a sustainable land use practice with ecological, biological and economics benefits.
However, the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) downplayed the report, saying climate change has serious consequences on all sectors of the Ghanaian economy, and not only the cocoa sector.
Some Ghanaians find COCOBOD’s response to the report as inappropriate and lack of vision for the cocoa sector. The board must have known the effects of climate change on the sector.
What is COCOBOD doing to mitigate the effects of the global warming on our economic backbone (cocoa sector)?
They believe that the development and implementation of adaptation strategies to face progressive climate change depend on the participation of all actors in the cocoa sector.
By Masahudu Ankiilu Kunateh, Senior Development Journalist, The Chronicle, Ghana