For World Environment Day, a story of biodiversity and globalization in the ancient Asante Kingdom of Ghana
The man on the throne in the place where growing cocoa is more important than just about anywhere in the world–the king of the Asante in Ghana–knows well the challenges ahead for this agricultural wonder. If you care about chocolate, read on:
By His Royal Majesty Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, King of the Asante Kingdom, Ghana and Dr. Musonda Mumba, Chair, Global Partnership on Forest and Landscape Restoration (GPFLR) and Chief, Terrestrial Ecosystems Unit, UN Environment, Kenya.
With the easing of COVID-19 lockdowns across the globe, people shall again begin visiting shops to purchase gifts for loved ones. No doubt chocolate delicacies will be part of the presents. Although they can hardly be considered an essential good for consumers, the production of cocoa and chocolate is vital to the livelihoods of millions of people in West Africa. It is at the center of a global multi-billion-dollar industry, and much of the cocoa that feeds this industry originates from trees growing in the Ancient Kingdom of Asante in Ghana. But this source of wealth is under threat.
This “Gold of the Tree” is under threat due to climate change, artisanal gold mining, deforestation and plant disease. Threats to the cocoa industry in turn undermine livelihoods of over 800,000 families who cultivate on 1.69 million hectares of land and plots that average 2-3 hectares. They further weaken cultural traditions and risk the integrity of entire ecosystems.
Communities continue to contend with the complexities of land tenure and use. The demand for land for commercial agriculture, industrialization and mining has been particularly problematic in Ghana. With the increase of Chinese investment in the country has come the so-called Sino-Africa dynamic. The Chinese migrants who engage in artisanal gold mining on land previously used for cocoa cultivation adds to the myriad of threats. Mining has led to high levels of pollution in the landscape, and in water bodies in particular, with terrible impacts. On the other hand, there is evidence from recent studies that cocoa farmers are seeing more diseases affect their crop than before, due to climate change.
This all serves to compromise land availability, an issue compounded further by deforestation and land degradation…
Read the whole statement here.