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Why chocolate is skyrocketing in price

🌈 Abstract

The article discusses the record-high prices of chocolate and the challenges faced by West African cocoa farmers, who are not benefiting as much as expected from the price surge.

🙋 Q&A

[01] Cocoa Prices and Challenges for West African Farmers

1. What factors have contributed to the record-high prices of cocoa?

  • The invasion of Ukraine by Russia led to a shortage of fertilizers, which became cost-prohibitive for most West African farmers.
  • Severe weather patterns, including heavy rainfall followed by heat and drought, have devastated cocoa trees and reduced crop yields.
  • Compared to the originally predicted output for the 2023-24 season, cocoa production is expected to fall by 29% in Côte d'Ivoire and 1 metric ton less than normal on Baba's farm in Nigeria.

2. How have the higher cocoa prices impacted West African farmers?

  • While cocoa prices have increased by an estimated 50% in Nigeria, the increase was not enough to protect farmers from severe inflation and economic challenges.
  • Farmers in countries like Cameroon and Ghana are subject to fixed farmgate prices set by the government, which are about one-third of the open market price.
  • Farmers have also faced increased rents and property taxes, as well as theft of cocoa pods and beans, further reducing their profits.

3. What investments and optimism are West African farmers showing for the 2024 harvest?

  • Farmers are investing in fertilizers, expanding nurseries, and planning to farm new parcels of land to increase productivity.
  • The governments of Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana are planning to increase farmgate prices by up to 50%.
  • However, experts warn that the increased productivity may reduce scarcity and prices, though they will likely remain higher than most farmers are accustomed to.

[02] Challenges to Cocoa Production in West Africa

1. What are the concerns regarding the long-term sustainability of cocoa production in West Africa?

  • Cocoa is not native to West Africa and is not as hardy as the region's indigenous crops, making it more vulnerable to climate change and environmental damage.
  • Studies show that climate change has caused weaker rains and longer dry seasons in the West African forest regions, which are crucial for cocoa cultivation.
  • Baba, a Nigerian farmer, has faced record heat and severe rainfall patterns, which have affected his crop yields and increased the cost of herbicides and other inputs.

2. How are West African farmers adapting to the challenges?

  • Farmers like Baba are investing in new seedlings, fertilizers, and expanding their farms, hoping to capitalize on the record-high cocoa prices.
  • However, experts warn that the increased productivity may only temporarily reduce scarcity and prices, which are unlikely to return to pre-2023 levels.
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