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Global Trade in Chocolate Leads to Widespread Deforestation in Ivory Coast and Ghana

The world’s hunger for chocolate is a major cause of the destruction of protected forests in west Africa, scientists have said. Satellite maps of Ivory Coast and Ghana showed swathes of formerly dense forest had become cocoa plantations since 2000, according to a study. It found cocoa production was linked to 360,000 of a total 962,000 hectares (37.4%) of the deforestation since 2000 of protected areas in Ivory Coast, and 26,000 out of a total 193,000 hectares (13.5%) of the deforestation of similar areas in Ghana. The global trade in chocolate was estimated to be worth more than a trillion dollars last year. Cocoa, its most important ingredient, is produced from the seed of the tropical Theobroma cacao tree. It is native to South America, but most is now produced in Africa, with Ivory Coast and Ghana accounting for two-thirds of production. An estimated 2 million farmers in west Africa, operating farms of an average of just three to four hectares each, rely on cocoa for their income – usually less than $1 a day. They supply a complex network of middlemen, including public and private companies, who connect them to the world market, making the supply chain opaque.