Cocoa farmers fear climate change will cut yields
For over 40 years, Jean-Baptiste Saleio has been growing cocoa on several acres of his family's land in Cote D'Ivoire, a West African country that produces almost half of the world's cocoa. But this year, Saleyo says the rains have become unpredictable and he fears his crop could be another victim of climate change.
About 600,000 farmers are employed in cacao cultivation, according to the Coffee-Cocoa Council, which ultimately provides nearly a quarter of the country's population of about 6 million people. National production remains at the same level because the amount of cultivated land is growing. But experts say small farmers are suffering this year. In order for the cocoa tree to bear fruit well, the rains must come at the right time in the growth cycle. Rain at the wrong time can lead to crop disease.
Some of those accustomed to producing 500 kilograms plan only 200 kilograms this year, said Jean Yao Bru, general secretary of the Anouanze cooperative, which helps farmers get their crops to markets. “Our manufacturers have big production problems,” he said.