From site-level to regional adaptation planning for tropical commodities: cocoa in West Africa uri icon

abstract

  • The production of tropical agricultural commodities, such as cocoa (Theobroma cacao) and coffee (Coffea spp.), the countries and communities engaged in it, and the industries dependent on these commodities, are vulnerable to climate change. This is especially so where a large percentage of the global supply is grown in a single geographical region. Fortunately, there is often considerable spatial heterogeneity in the vulnerability to climate change within affected regions, implying that local production losses could be compensated through intensification and expansion of production elsewhere. However, this requires that site-level actions are integrated into a regional approach to climate change adaptation. We discuss here such a regional approach for cocoa in West Africa, where 70 % of global cocoa supply originates. On the basis of a statistical model of relative climatic suitability calibrated on West African cocoa farming areas and average climate projections for the 2030s and 2050s of, respectively, 15 and 19 Global Circulation Models, we divide the region into three adaptation zones: (i) a little affected zone permitting intensification and/or expansion of cocoa farming; (ii) a moderately affected zone requiring diversification and agronomic adjustments of farming practices; and (iii) a severely affected zone with need for progressive crop change. We argue that for tropical agricultural commodities, larger-scale adaptation planning that attempts to balance production trends across countries and regions could help reduce negative impacts of climate change on regional economies and global commodity supplies, despite the institutional challenges that this integration may pose.

publication date

  • 2017
  • 2017