KOREAGUI, Ivory Coast (AP) – For more than 40 years, Jean Baptiste Saleyo has been growing cocoa on several hectares of family land in Ivory Coast, a West African country that produces almost half of the global supply of the raw material used in chocolate bars. .
But this year, Saleyo says the rains have become unpredictable and he fears his crop could be another victim of climate change.
“When it should have rained, it didn’t rain, it didn’t rain,” Saleyo said as he inspected the ripeness of one of his cocoa pods. “It’s raining now, but it’s already too late.”
Cocoa farming employs nearly 600,000 farmers here in the Ivory Coast, ultimately supporting almost a quarter of the country’s population – around 6 million people, according to the Coffee-Cocoa Council.
And it represents about 15% of the national GDP of Côte d’Ivoire, according to official figures.
National production remains on track as the area of cultivated land is increasing. But experts say small farmers are suffering this year. For the cocoa tree to grow well, the rains must come at the right time in the growth cycle. Arriving at the wrong time may cause crop disease.
Some who are used to producing 500 kilograms are planning only 200 kilograms this year, said Jean Yao Brou, general secretary of the Anouanze cooperative, which helps farmers get their crops to market.
“Our producers have big issues with production,” he said.
Hilaire Zon, Associated Press