Climatic Change

, Volume 119, Issue 3, pp 841-854

First online:

Predicting the future climatic suitability for cocoa farming of the world’s leading producer countries, Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire

  • P. LäderachAffiliated withInternational Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) Email author 
  • , A. Martinez-ValleAffiliated withInternational Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)
  • , G. SchrothAffiliated withConservation International, Africa and Madagascar Field Division
  • , N. CastroAffiliated withInternational Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)

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Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire are the world’s leading cocoa (Thebroma cacao) producing countries; together they produce 53 % of the world’s cocoa. Cocoa contributes 7.5 % of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Côte d’Ivoire and 3.4 % of that of Ghana and is an important cash crop for the rural population in the forest zones of these countries. If progressive climate change affected the climatic suitability for cocoa in West Africa, this would have implications for global cocoa output as well as the national economies and farmer livelihoods, with potential repercussions for forests and natural habitat as cocoa growing regions expand, shrink or shift. The objective of this paper is to present future climate scenarios for the main cocoa growing regions of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire and to predict their impact on the relative suitability of these regions for growing cocoa. These analyses are intended to support the respective countries and supply chain actors in developing strategies for reducing the vulnerability of the cocoa sector to climate change. Based on the current distribution of cocoa growing areas and climate change predictions from 19 Global Circulation Models, we predict changes in relative climatic suitability for cocoa for 2050 using an adapted MAXENT model. According to the model, some current cocoa producing areas will become unsuitable (Lagunes and Sud-Comoe in Côte d’Ivoire) requiring crop change, while other areas will require adaptations in agronomic management, and in yet others the climatic suitability for growing cocoa will increase (Kwahu Plateu in Ghana and southwestern Côte d’Ivoire). We recommend the development of site-specific strategies to reduce the vulnerability of cocoa farmers and the sector to future climate change.