Cocoa shortfall: Pollination curbs climate risk to cocoa

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Cocoa yields will be 75,000 tonnes short of those predicted for the 2013–14 growing season (see Supply deficits have been linked to extreme weather events in the cocoa-growing regions of Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana and Indonesia, so future production strategies should take climate change into account (see P. Läderach et al. Clim. Change 119, 841854; 2013).

The global trade in cocoa is worth US$10 billion per year, and 50 million people depend on cocoa farming. Farmers are under pressure to stabilize yields, often by increasing chemical inputs and removing shade trees to increase the productivity of cocoa trees. But both strategies could kill vital pollinators.

Farmers need to adopt more sustainable ecological methods. For example, shade trees can make plantations more resilient to drought and provide habitat for pollinators. Increasing insect pollination by as little as 10% can double cocoa yields (see J. H. Groeneveld et al. Perspect. Plant Ecol. Evol. Syst. 12, 183191; 2010).

Government and industry sustainability initiatives akin to those run by the World Cocoa Foundation (see could contribute to cocoa-pollination research and advise farmers on how best to meet the world's increasing demand for chocolate.

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  1. University of Göttingen, Germany.

    • Thomas C. Wanger
  2. On behalf of 4 correspondents (see Supplementary Information for full list).

    • Thomas C. Wanger

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