By Georgina Wade
During the holiday season, the abundant chocolate aisle at your local grocery store is a must-stop for your stocking fillers and general festive treats. But for those that cannot go a cold winter’s day without a warm cup of hot cocoa or a piece of chocolate orange, climate change may be your worst nightmare.
According to a study carried out by International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), many areas in West Africa will become unsuitable for cocoa growing as rainfall decreases and temperatures rise 1.2 °C by 2030 and 2.1 °C by 2050. Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, which together account for 60% of global cocoa production, are predicted to experience a decrease in climatic suitability for cocoa that, if not addressed, could impact future world cocoa supplies.
The world’s third largest cocoa producing nation, Indonesia, may also face similar challenges. “Increasing temperatures will have a negative impact on cocoa productivity,” said Dr. Soetanto Abdoellah Chairman of the Indonesian Cocoa Board. “We have to be very concerned with this. An increase in temperature of 1-2°C will lower the yield more or less 10-15% (in Indonesia).”
In fact, cocoa yields have been decreasing for some time now. In the case of chocolate, climate change and unsustainable farming techniques have already decreased the amount of land for cocoa crops by 40% in the past four decades. According to an analysis by PwC and Geotraceability, the shortfall is expected to reach one million tonnes by 2020 at current production rates.
Despite all of this, you still have reason to keep your holiday spirits high with the number of policy actions being put in place to adapt cocoa production to climate change. A number of these can already be seen in Ghana where the Cocoa Research Institute is continuously developing drought tolerant, high-yielding and disease resistant cocoa planting materials and improved agronomic practices to sustain cocoa production and farmers’ livelihood. Additionally, chocolate manufacturers have joined the fight with chocolate giant Mars promising to spend close to $1 billion over the next few years fighting climate change.