Cacao is a critical cash crop for much of West Africa, particularly Ghana. Cacao trees are sensitive to drought conditions and aWhere’s contiguous, in-time weather data show that the last 3 months (June-August) experienced very low rainfall for much of the Cacao production areas of Ghana. These trends could negatively impact the GDP of the country and the livelihoods of millions of small-holder cacao farmers. With aWhere’s in-time and historical weather data, this region can build Economic Resilience to Climate Change and plan for potential impacts to cacao yields.
Read our latest weather advisory which takes an in-depth look at how recent weather patterns may impact cacao production in West Africa.
Cacao is a critical cash crop for much of West Africa, particularly Ghana. Where current precipitation over potential evapotranspiration (P/PET) is below 1.0, drying conditions prevail and cacao trees are sensitive to drought conditions, threatening yields. aWhere’s contiguous, in-time weather data show that the last 3 months (June-August) experienced very low P/PET for much of the Cacao production areas of Ghana. As the map and weekly rainfall charts show below, cacao production areas have been very dry.
These charts show the extreme variability in rainfall from February to September 2019 compared to the long-term normal (11 years). There were many weeks when little to no rainfall fell, where over 50 mm was expected. This will likely impact both cash and food crops across Ghana.
West African Cacao Producing Regions
The two maps below show August P/PET as well as the 7-day forecast for P/PET. While conditions have been dry for southern Togo, southwestern Nigeria, and much of Ghana and Ivory Coast’s cocoa producing areas, there is some rainfall in the forecast and the growing conditions for cacao and other food crops is likely to improve. This should provide relief to farmers who have been experiencing drier than normal conditions.
As cacao is produced by small-holder farmers, the human dimension could have dramatic impacts. Farmer income will be negatively impacted, which creates cascading challenges of an inability to pay laborers (so they suffer job loss) and as resources become more constrained, child labor may increase as more families cannot afford school fees.
Implications and Recommendations
Cacao production is likely to fall. This will impact the GDP of the country and the livelihoods of millions of small-holder cacao farmers. aWhere weather data and models can help cacao producers across West Africa adapt to weather variability and changing production ecologies, and support policy development to deliver economic resilience to climate change in agriculture, energy, health, and trade (domestic and international).
With timely insights, farmers can take appropriate action to account for increasing weather variability, such as changing crops or varieties, timely planting, fertilizing, harvesting and grain conditioning operations to maximize yield, quality and food safety. Contact aWhere for specific recommendations.