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The environmental effects of cocoa production, such commonly as herbicide resistance and deforestation are becoming much more severe as demand for cocoa increases in present day.

BackgroundEdit

Cocoa beans are a high demand consumer item all over the world. They are used in products such as chocolate, candy bars, beverages and cocoa powder. However, cocoa farming and the production of cocoa beans are extremely fragile and labour-intensive processes. The process begins with a Cacao plant, or Theobroma Cacao, in which the beans are extracted from pods that grow directly on branches. Each pod contains roughly 30 to 50 beans.[1] After the beans are extracted they must go through a time-consuming process of natural fermenting and drying.[2] The farming process of cocoa can damage the environment depending on the practices of the farmer, as well as be limited by the environment itself. Global Climate Change, for example, causes longer drought seasons making it more difficult for farmers to plant and sustain new Cacao trees.[3] Most of the environmental impact comes from CO2.

Process of farming Edit

Cocoa farming can only occur 15 degrees north or south of the Equator. It can take approximately three years after planting for the trees to be fruitful enough to harvest the pods.[4] Ripe cocoa pods, which are yellow in colour, are cut down from the trees using a machete. They can be very low on branches and easily accessible or higher up on thick branches. Once they are gathered, they are sliced open and the cocoa beans are extracted from the pods. The beans are then spread out, usually between banana leaves, for a number of days to ferment. Next, the seeds are placed in the sun to dry for several more days. After drying, they are gathered, placed into bags and taken to collection offices. From there, they are shipped around the world to be processed into end products.[5]

Economic impact Edit

Full sun cocoa Edit

Cocoa farms are generally small, family owned and operated businesses. There are approximately 4.5 million cocoa farms around the world. The majority of cocoa farms are located in Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana.[6] In Ghana, Cocoa contributes 64% of all exports.[7] Traditional cocoa farms are planted in the shade among other crops and trees. They are especially found in the Tropical rainforest areas.[8] Farming cocoa beans is a long process with many factors that can affect the farm's yearly output.

Farms' cocoa crop outputs struggle to match the increasing demand for chocolate. It is estimated that the demand for chocolate will increase twofold by the year 2050.[9] Farmers have shifted towards unsustainable, less environmentally conscious practices to meet these demands.[10]

Some farmers have shifted their crops out of the shade and into direct sunlight.[11] This practice yields a greater quantity in a short period and at lower quality. Cacao trees with no shade tend to accumulate more weeds[12] as well as be more susceptible to diseases such as Witches Broom and Frosty Pod Rot.[13] If the crops begin to accumulate pests, farmers use large amounts of herbicides to rid the crops of these pests.[14] The herbicides used damage the land and the health of the sprayers applying the herbicide. Excessive spraying of pesticides can also cause the weeds and insects to build up a resistance which will eventually create more harm to the crops.[15]

Deforestation Edit

Cocoa farming also contributes to rainforest and old growth forest deforestation.[16] By clearing land in these forests, farmers decrease the biodiversity and interactions between the organisms that naturally live in this area.[17] Many wildlife habitats are destroyed and the plant species diversity is drastically reduced. Nutrients begin to leach out of the soil due to poor irrigation and inadequate soil protection,[18] which can increase the erosion of the soil.[19] The more intense the farming practices are, the more damaging they are to the ecosystem.[20] Cocoa farming becomes a destructive circle as farmers wear out the soils and cut further into the forest to obtain fresh land. All of these processes stress the Cacao trees and result in lower yields,[21] giving the opposite effect to what the farmers expect from these practices.

Some of the forests in Ghana and other Cocoa producing countries have been declared protected by the government after observing the Tropical Rainforest destruction. However,with a shortage of fresh land to plant Cacao trees, some farmers are beginning to illegally cut down parts of these protected forests. It has been estimated that approximately 50% of these protected forests have been cut down.[22]

Proposed Solutions Edit

Education Edit

Through groups and programs such as the World Cocoa Foundation, Rainforest Alliance, Roundtable for a Sustainable Cocoa Economy, and activities of regional NGOs like Conservation Alliance, IITA and Solidaridad cocoa farming can return to its sustainable roots through education programs and help in finding ecologically and economically sound resources to further their farming. As a last resort, some programs will help farmers to access pest control products such as biocides as an alternative to the harmful pesticides being used. Other programs promote proper irrigation, composting, suitable soil management, and intercropping, meaning planting other trees and fruit crops in the surrounding land of the Cacao trees.[23] Some farmers will burn old, fermented pods and place them back on the soil as a form of composting and fertilizer.[24] To stop the process of deforestation, it is suggested that farmers replant on their current land while using the practices previously mentioned.

Shade cacao Edit

It has been suggested that Cocoa farmers go back to the original and natural ways of farming, by planting within the natural tree-cover and without cutting down existing trees.[25] When an area has already been clearcut another possibility exists. Planting trees, especially fruit trees around and within the plantation, helps with growth of Cacao plants.[26] These trees can provide shade to the Cacao plants and be a source of oxygen replenishment to the environment. If the shade trees are fruit-bearing, this can also provide additional income to the farmer.

Shade trees return organic matter to the soil through falling leaf litter and decaying branches.[27] The shade provided by these trees also helps to keep soil moist in dry seasons[28] which results in less damaging irrigation practices. Shade trees will raise the amount of infiltration and slow erosion of the soil.[29] Since shade inhibits the growth of weeds, farmers are able to use less or perhaps no pesticides which can decrease the occurrences of Witches Broom in these crops.[30] Cacao plants that grow in the shade provide the environment with more biodiversity, allowing natural populations and habitats to flourish.[31] Finally, shade can be extremely helpful in keeping and lengthening the productivity of old growth Cacao plants.[32]

ReferencesEdit

  1. The European Chocolate and Cocoa Industry. (n.d.). Cocoa Farming: an Overview. http://www.cocoafarming.org.uk/Cocoa_farming_bw_v8_uk.pdf
  2. The European Chocolate and Cocoa Industry. (n.d.). Cocoa Farming: an Overview. http://www.cocoafarming.org.uk/Cocoa_farming_bw_v8_uk.pdf
  3. Anim-Kwapong, G. J., Frimpong, E. B. (2004) Vulnerability and Adaptation Assessment Under the Netherlands Climate Change Studies Assistance Programme Phase 2 (NCCSAP2): Vulnerability of agriculture to climate change- impact of climate change on cocoa production. Ghana, Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana.
  4. The European Chocolate and Cocoa Industry. (n.d.). Cocoa Farming: an Overview. http://www.cocoafarming.org.uk/Cocoa_farming_bw_v8_uk.pdf
  5. Padwick, N. (2010). Fair Farming. Farmers Weekly, 152(9), 88-89.
  6. The European Chocolate and Cocoa Industry. (n.d.). Cocoa Farming: an Overview. http://www.cocoafarming.org.uk/Cocoa_farming_bw_v8_uk.pdf
  7. Gyimah-Brempong, K., Konadu Apraku, K. (1987). Structural Change in Supply Response of Ghanaian Cocoa Production: 1933-1983. The Journal of Developing Areas, 22(1), 59-70.
  8. Bisseleua, D.H.B., Missoup, A.D., Vidal, S. (2009). Biodiversity Conservation, Ecosystem Functioning, and Economic Incentives under Cocoa Agroforestry Intensification. Conservation Biology, 23(5), 1176-1184.
  9. Bisseleua, D.H.B., Missoup, A.D., Vidal, S. (2009). Biodiversity Conservation, Ecosystem Functioning, and Economic Incentives under Cocoa Agroforestry Intensification. Conservation Biology, 23(5), 1176-1184.
  10. Slomkowski, K. (2005). Chocolate’s Dark Side. E: The Environmental Magazine, 16(6), 33-342.
  11. Piasentin, F., Klare-Repnik, L. (2004). Gro-Cocoa: Global Research on Cocoa. http://www.cabi.org/Uploads/File/Gro%20Cocoa%20pdfs/gro-cocoa5.pdf
  12. Bentley, J.W., Boa, E., Stonehouse, J. (2004). Neighbor Trees: Shade, Intercropping and Cacao in Ecuador. Human Ecology, 32(2), 241-270.
  13. Piasentin, F., Klare-Repnik, L. (2004). Gro-Cocoa: Global Research on Cocoa. http://www.cabi.org/Uploads/File/Gro%20Cocoa%20pdfs/gro-cocoa5.pdf
  14. Bentley, J.W., Boa, E., Stonehouse, J. (2004). Neighbor Trees: Shade, Intercropping and Cacao in Ecuador. Human Ecology, 32(2), 241-270.
  15. Rice, R.A., Greenburg, R. (2000). Cacao Cultivation and the Conservation of Biological Diversity. Ambio, 29(3), 167-173.
  16. England, P. (1993). Forest Protection and the Rights of Cocoa Farmers in Western Ghana. Journal of African Law, 37(2), 164-176.
  17. Bentley, J.W., Boa, E., Stonehouse, J. (2004). Neighbor Trees: Shade, Intercropping and Cacao in Ecuador. Human Ecology, 32(2), 241-270.
  18. Piasentin, F., Klare-Repnik, L. (2004). Gro-Cocoa: Global Research on Cocoa. http://www.cabi.org/Uploads/File/Gro%20Cocoa%20pdfs/gro-cocoa5.pdf
  19. Slomkowski, K. (2005). Chocolate’s Dark Side. E: The Environmental Magazine, 16(6), 33-342.
  20. Asase, A., Ofori-Frimpong, K., Ekpe, P.K. (2009). Impact of Cocoa Farming on Vegetation in an Agricultural Landscape in Ghana. African Journal of Ecology, 48(2), 338-346.
  21. Asase, A., Ofori-Frimpong, K., Ekpe, P.K. (2009). Impact of Cocoa Farming on Vegetation in an Agricultural Landscape in Ghana. African Journal of Ecology, 48(2), 338-346.
  22. England, P. (1993). Forest Protection and the Rights of Cocoa Farmers in Western Ghana. Journal of African Law, 37(2), 164-176.
  23. World Cocoa Foundation. (n.d.) Sustainability Principles and Goals. http://www.worldcocoafoundation.org/sustainability-principles-and-goals/
  24. Styles, R. (21 January 2011). Green Business: Divine. http://www.theecologist.org/green_green_living/green_business/736265/green_business_divine.html
  25. The European Chocolate and Cocoa Industry. (n.d.). Cocoa Farming: an Overview. http://www.cocoafarming.org.uk/Cocoa_farming_bw_v8_uk.pdf
  26. Styles, R. (21 January 2011). Green Business: Divine. http://www.theecologist.org/green_green_living/green_business/736265/green_business_divine.html
  27. Rice, R.A., Greenburg, R. (2000). Cacao Cultivation and the Conservation of Biological Diversity. Ambio, 29(3), 167-173.
  28. Bentley, J.W., Boa, E., Stonehouse, J. (2004). Neighbor Trees: Shade, Intercropping and Cacao in Ecuador. Human Ecology, 32(2), 241-270.
  29. Rice, R.A., Greenburg, R. (2000). Cacao Cultivation and the Conservation of Biological Diversity. Ambio, 29(3), 167-173.
  30. Rice, R.A., Greenburg, R. (2000). Cacao Cultivation and the Conservation of Biological Diversity. Ambio, 29(3), 167-173.
  31. Bentley, J.W., Boa, E., Stonehouse, J. (2004). Neighbor Trees: Shade, Intercropping and Cacao in Ecuador. Human Ecology, 32(2), 241-270.
  32. Rice, R.A., Greenburg, R. (2000). Cacao Cultivation and the Conservation of Biological Diversity. Ambio, 29(3), 167-173.

External linksEdit

  • Anim-Kwapong, G. J., Frimpong, E. B. (2004) Vulnerability and Adaptation Assessment Under the Netherlands Climate Change Studies Assistance Programme Phase 2 (NCCSAP2): Vulnerability of agriculture to climate change- impact of climate change on cocoa production. Ghana, Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana.
  • Asase, A., Ofori-Frimpong, K., Ekpe, P.K. (2009). Impact of Cocoa Farming on Vegetation in an Agricultural Landscape in Ghana. African Journal of Ecology, 48(2), 338-346.
  • Bentley, J.W., Boa, E., Stonehouse, J. (2004). Neighbor Trees: Shade, Intercropping and Cacao in Ecuador. Human Ecology, 32(2), 241-270.
  • Bisseleua, D.H.B., Missoup, A.D., Vidal, S. (2009). Biodiversity Conservation, Ecosystem Functioning, and Economic Incentives under Cocoa Agroforestry Intensification. Conservation Biology, 23(5), 1176-1184.
  • England, P. (1993). Forest Protection and the Rights of Cocoa Farmers in Western Ghana. Journal of African Law, 37(2), 164-176.
  • The European Chocolate and Cocoa Industry. (n.d.). Cocoa Farming: an Overview. http://www.cocoafarming.org.uk/Cocoa_farming_bw_v8_uk.pdf
  • Gyimah-Brempong, K., Konadu Apraku, K. (1987). Structural Change in Supply Response of Ghanaian Cocoa Production: 1933-1983. The Journal of Developing Areas, 22(1), 59-70.
  • Padwick, N. (2010). Fair Farming. Farmers Weekly, 152(9), 88-89.
  • Piasentin, F., Klare-Repnik, L. (2004). Gro-Cocoa: Global Research on Cocoa. http://www.cabi.org/Uploads/File/Gro%20Cocoa%20pdfs/gro-cocoa5.pdf
  • Rice, R.A., Greenburg, R. (2000). Cacao Cultivation and the Conservation of Biological Diversity. Ambio, 29(3), 167-173.
  • Slomkowski, K. (2005). Chocolate’s Dark Side. E: The Environmental Magazine, 16(6), 33-342.
  • Styles, R. (21 January 2011). Green Business: Divine. http://www.theecologist.org/green_green_living/green_business/736265/green_business_divine.html
  • World Cocoa Foundation. (n.d.) Sustainability Principles and Goals. http://www.worldcocoafoundation.org/sustainability-principles-and-goals
  • Profile on Roundtable for a Sustainable Cocoa Economy. http://shapingsustainablemarkets.iied.org/roundtable-sustainable-cocoa-economy

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