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Education Program Aims to Counter Cocoa Industry's Deforestation

In Ghana, cocoa is king: it accounts for almost 10 percent of the country’s economy and 30 percent of its exports - but it’s also a leading driver of deforestation, for a variety of reasons.

To begin with, the cacao tree on which the cocoa bean grows is a ravenous beast that sucks nutrients out of the soil at rates that require massive infusions of chemical fertilizer. On top of that, cacao grows best in filtered sunlight, under shade trees; but more and more farmers have been chopping the shade trees to increase yields in the short-term - largely because of widely-held beliefs that new hybrids thrive in the sun.

The result, says Yaw Kwakye, Head of the National REDD+ Secretariat within Ghana’s Climate Change Unit, is a perfect storm of practices that could drive up greenhouse-gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation while hastening the end of the country’s cocoa industry.


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