CIAT’s researcher Christian Bunn traveled to Ivory Coast to gather support for our initiative to make the world’s largest cocoa producer climate smart. The highlight was an invitation on behalf of the Conseil du Café-Cacao (CCC) to present our impact assessment for cocoa production in Ivory Coast on the National Cocoa and Chocolate day. In this way, we were able to engage directly with our target audience: the stakeholders of the Ivorian cocoa supply chain.
Apart from the presentation, the trip had three objectives:
To consult with local experts about the validity of our impacts maps
To gather information on the economics of potential climate-smart practices for cocoa
To gather additional data for the contextualization of our work on impacts (protected areas, quantities produced)
A fourth objective, to look for potential partners for a climate-smart cocoa pilot, was postponed.
The presentation was meant to initiate the panel discussion and was very well received. The key actors in Ivory Coast have made the decision to not just stand by and watch as climate change happens. The question is how to efficiently design action. Therefore, our project intends to do just that. CIATs work takes a sector-wide perspective on the issue because adaptation requires the inclusion of a wide range of actors; the burden cannot be put exclusively on poor smallholder farmers. Our impact mapping exercise intends to guide site- and actor-specific adaptation strategies. Other panelists therefore stated that our work will be of great support for future activities in the country. However, it was certainly helpful that a companion presentation by the Ivorian meteorological institute SODEXAM demonstrated essentially the same conclusions. But, while CIAT focused on global climate models for a future outlook, SODEXAM presented past trends that nevertheless implied identical future developments: a lot more heat and an uncertain precipitation and drought outlook. The panel concluded that halting deforestation and soil deterioration will be essential for the country.
Before and after presenting our impact assessment at the event, we consulted several distinguished experts on Ivorian cocoa production at partner institutes. We invited criticism of the assessment from ICRAF’s Vision for Change project, the World Cocoa Foundation, and of course the national research institute CNRA. The impact maps were well received although there was some need for further illustration of the impacts. Initially, some doubts were raised about the assumed distribution of rainfall within the country. In this respect, the presentation by SODEXAM was very helpful. Their results largely aligned with the model trends, but also helped to understand perceptions and the data on precipitation distribution. The Northwest of the cocoa belt has very high total precipitation and is perceived as wet. However, this region also has a pronounced dry season. We now consider our data-driven mapping approach approved. But, with CNRA, we discussed the option to complement the work with an expert knowledge-based envelope mapping to aid interpretation and consideration of local concepts (i.e., map out consecutive months with <50 mm precipitation, precipitation during the wet season, etc.).
A well-founded understanding of projected climate change impacts can only be the first step toward adaptation. For different impact zones, we suggest that public and private stakeholders gather to jointly develop portfolios of climate-smart strategies. Each of these options will have to pass the test of whether these options are economically beneficial for farmers. The next step in our project will be to assess the economic costs and benefits (CBA) of locally prioritized CSA practices. After this trip, we will not have to start from scratch because we will be able to benefit from previous work conducted by our local partners. For example, ICRAF has conducted some baseline studies that include household data for their project region. Also, GIZ has some data on CBA for sustainable practices, as does the Cocoa Action project of the World Cocoa Foundation.
In addition to these activities, there is a clear need to assess the cost of inaction and deforestation threats. Several discussion partners stated that only a strong business case for adaptation will make policy actors take action beyond words. The CCC will provide us with a dataset of historic subnational production statistics to conduct this analysis. At SODEFOR, the Ivorian Forestry Society, stated interest in our work was high and they will share their latest data about protected areas and biodiversity with us. We will then be able to point out future deforestation hot-spots impacted by migrating cocoa production.
Postdoctoral Scientist-Linking Farmers To Markets