You rely on a steady stream of buzz-inducing chocolate to get you through the afternoon. Countries that produce cocoa, such as Ghana, rely on the crop for their economies.
The decline of cocoa crops is a lose-lose situation.
CNN reports that cocoa crop yields are declining all over West Africa. The article says this is due to soil degradation and because areas able to support the crop are retreating.
One farmer from Ghana is quoted in the article: "The way we farm is just not sustainable. I'm afraid by the time we wake up to that fact it will be too late." John Mason, executive director and founder of the Ghana-based Nature Conservation Research Council adds, "I think that in 20 years chocolate will be like caviar. It will become so rare and so expensive that the average Joe just won't be able to afford it."
How did this happen?
According to the article, the issue is that cocoa is naturally a rainforest plant that grows in shady conditions surrounded by a high biodiversity. Recent hybrid varieties, however, have been grown on cleared land and in full sun.
This benefits farmers in the short run, producing higher yields. But soil quickly becomes degraded and instead of living 75 to 100 years, plants last 30 years or less. Then, when cocoa trees die, farmers have to clear more land for new crops.
Mason says the problem is huge but reversible: "The funny thing is we can reverse this. It will cost, certainly, but we can do it. The carbon trading market may be one way of making it more affordable, paying farmers for retaining biodiversity as a carbon off-set. We need to make these links."
It's worth noting Cadbury, maker of the famed Creme Egg, sources 100 percent of the beans they use for UK chocolate production from Ghana.
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