Climate change will affect cocoa growing

Oct. 3, 2011 at 8:07 PM

ACCRA, Ghana, Oct. 3 (UPI) -- Climate change will require farmers growing cocoa, one of West Africa's most important cash crops, to adapt to changing conditions, a study says.

The changes will affect Ghana and the Ivory Coast, where more than half the world's chocolate is sourced, Scientific American reported Monday.

The study by the International Center for Tropical Agriculture said cocoa-growing topography in both countries would see significant changes by 2050, Climatewire reported.

The suitable regions, located within 200 miles of the coast, will shrink considerably, the ICTA said.

"There will be areas that remain suitable for cocoa, but only when the farmers adapt their agronomic management to the new conditions the area will experience," the study said. "There will also be areas where suitability of cocoa increases.

"Climate change brings not only bad news but also a lot of potential opportunities. The winners will be those who are prepared for change and know how to adapt."

Many farmers who rely on cocoa as their only crop will face difficulties, researchers said.

"Many of these farmers use their cocoa trees like ATM machines," Peter Laderach, the report's lead author, said. "They pick some pods and sell them to quickly raise cash for school fees or medical expenses. The trees play an absolutely critical role in rural life."

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