Building a resilient cocoa culture in Côte d’Ivoire
Article also available in French.
Ninety percent of the world’s cocoa beans are grown and harvested on small, family-run farms in West Africa, and more than half of the world’s cocoa comes from only two countries – the largest exporter being Cote d’Ivoire.
In Cote d’Ivoire, 64 percent of the country’s total area is dedicated to agriculture production. Agriculture, forestry, and fisheries are important sectors of Côte d'Ivoire’s economy. Nevertheless, agriculture is confronted by challenges, such as deforestation, soil erosion, and the severe impacts of climate change. Rising temperatures, prolonged dry seasons, and an increased frequency of flooding are altering the fragile ecosystems in the country and affecting agrifood chains and rural farming communities.
Cocoa is a key commodity for economic and social development and brings prosperity to Côte d'Ivoire. In 2017, national production of cocoa reached 2 million tonnes, accounting for about 40 percent of global exports and contributing to 10 percent of the country’s GDP. While farmers in Côte d’Ivoire depend on cocoa for 74 percent of their income, cocoa production has been a major cause of deforestation over the last decades, resulting in landscape changes, biodiversity loss, and a reduced capacity to absorb carbon emissions through forests.
To safeguard its landscape health, commodities and economy with enhanced climate action, Côte d'Ivoire partnered with the FAO-UNDP SCALA programme, funded by Germany’s International Climate Initiative (IKI), to further support the implementation of its agriculture climate plans. The programme was launched in April 2022 in Abidjan, on the margins of the 15th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification and the launch of the Abidjan Legacy Program.
The SCALA programme sat down with the SCALA focal point at the UNDP Office in Abidjan, Mr. Jean Douglas Anaman, to learn more about how the programme will support Côte d'Ivoire to increase action in agriculture and land use, with a focus on sustainable agroforestry landscapes around cocoa culture.
SCALA: Could you describe some of the key adaptation and mitigation priorities in agriculture and land use that are outlined in your country's climate plans?
Mr. Anaman: Côte d'Ivoire has communicated its revised nationally determined contributions (NDC) which focuses on the agriculture, fisheries, and forestry sectors. Our key adaptation priorities are to increase resilience to climate change in the agropastoral and fisheries sectors, promote agricultural practices that protect soil health, set up climate risk protection measures, strengthen the national agro-climatic information system, improve governance of forest resources, strengthen protected areas and restore degraded lands. These measures are in line with the National Adaptation Plan (NAP) under development. Regarding mitigation priorities, the country plans to reduce GHG emissions caused by the burning of agricultural residues, flooding rice production systems and livestock, as well as significantly reduce deforestation and increase forest carbon stocks.
SCALA: What do you consider to be the main barriers to achieving these goals?
Mr. Anaman: Côte d'Ivoire has made considerable efforts to mainstream adaptation and mitigation priorities into its national development plans. However, there are barriers at the institutional level impeding the achievement of these goals. There is a need for stronger cooperation between the national and sub-national levels, and there is an absence of intersectoral coordination mechanisms for the NDCs and a lack of measurement, reporting, and verification (MRV) framework. As for technical resources and knowledge, there is limited availability of evidence-based information, inconsistencies in existing data, and insufficient research on emissions factors that are all considered important constraints. Moreover, financial barriers remain a considerable obstacle to achieving climate targets. For instance, there is no specific resource mobilization strategy for climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts, and there are difficulties in accessing climate finance from external mechanisms.
SCALA: Keeping in mind the key priorities set for the agricultural and land use sector, where do you think the private sector can contribute the most?
Mr. Anaman: While there is a need to enhance private sector engagement in Côte d'Ivoire, some companies have already successfully engaged in agriculture climate action. For example, companies in the cocoa sector (CEMOI, CARGIL, SIFCA, Mondelèz) support the implementation of good cocoa farming practices to improve yields, popularize agroforestry in cocoa farming and improve the traceability of production and the professionalization of cocoa producers. In addition, the potential for private sector financing has been explored as part of the NAP process and a platform for private sector dialogue has been set up to support private sector involvement in climate change adaption. To enhance these contributions, the private sector could engage in efforts to strengthen agro-climatic information systems, promote adaptive agriculture practices, support the agropastoral sector through the development of climate-smart agriculture programs for important crops and help restore degraded lands and forests, while involving local communities and women.
SCALA: Côte d'Ivoire is part of the 5-year SCALA programme. How can SCALA support the country in these efforts?
Mr. Anaman: The systemic approach adopted by the SCALA programme can help strengthen the integration of climate change adaptation in sectoral policies and enhance land use management at the institutional level. At the technical level, the programme can contribute to promoting agroforestry practices with a high potential for carbon sequestration, strengthening gender equality in the agriculture and land use sectors, and supporting innovative carbon accounting approaches adapted to cocoa. In addition, it will undertake an inventory of existing information on climate risks and vulnerability of the cocoa system, as well as a feasibility study for the establishment of a national climate finance platform for the agriculture, forestry and other land use sectors.
The SCALA programme plays an important role in accelerating the implementation of commitments outlined in Côte d'Ivoire’s NDC and NAP. Through the SCALA programme, FAO and UNDP will strive to overcome barriers at the institutional, technical, and financial levels and to create an inclusive multi-stakeholder process that helps fill gaps and improve capacities to reach the country’s climate targets while focusing on sustainable agroforestry landscapes around cocoa culture. The programme will collaborate with existing initiatives, such as the GCF project on promoting zero-deforestation cocoa production for reducing emissions, the Green Commodity project on agriculture and forest restoration plans, and the Strengthening climate change adaptation integration into development planning project in Côte d’Ivoire.