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Cocoa in The Ivory Coast

Cocoa Production in The Ivory Coast

by Joachim Milz

The Ivory Coast is still the world largest cocoa producing country with more than 1.5 million tons of cocoa beans produced in 2011. Nevertheless the continuous growth of cocoa production could only be achieved by expanding the agricultural frontier towards the last reserves of primary forest areas by slash and burn. However forest reserves to be slashed down for new cocoa plantations are not available anymore and the peak of growth of cocoa production seemed to be reached.

In the meantime productivity per ha has been in continuous decrease over the last decade from 700kg/ha in 2000 to 611kg/ha in 2009 (FAOSTAT 2011) and a huge amount of cocoa plantations are in a really deplorable situation. Production under full sun, lack of any management practices and the increase of pests and diseases may conduce to the collapse of cocoa production in the near future. As if this weren’t enough, staple food production like yams, manioc, maize and peanuts are in crisis as well and are even in competition with cocoa for availability of land surface. Demographic growth and reduction of farm size due to partition of farms by inheritance will aggravate this situation more. And finally, a continuous export of energy from the field to villages, towns and cities in the form of firewood and charcoal combined with burning of all organic matter in the fields have lead to an energy crisis and lack of metabolic energy in the soil for further crop production.

Fig 1: Development of cocoa production in The Ivory Coast from 1961 to 2009 (FAOSTAT 2011)

Vast areas of primary forest have already been converted into savannahs during the last decades, a process which is still going on at a rapid pace. One of the most commonly mentioned problems by farmers is the erratic rainfall distribution and the threat of drought due to local and global climate change.

Therefore soil erosion and soil depletion will not be stopped by mineral fertilizer applications and increasing problems with pests and diseases will not be solved by spraying pesticides either.


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