Organic Cocoa Growers Likely to Switch to Conventional Production if Financing of Inputs is Made Available

Weedy Cocoa: Ghana

Weeding Cocoa: Ghana

There are very few certified organic cocoa growers in Africa. The risks of trying to grow an organic crop are great. Many of these growers choose to grow organically because they lack financial resources to purchase inputs including pesticides. With financing of inputs, many of the current organic growers are likely to switch to use of conventional methods with pesticides due to greater yields, income and less risk.

“…the total market share of organically grown cocoa is still relatively very small and accounted for less than 0.5% of the total production in 2002 to 2005.

For producers who cannot afford inorganic inputs and who currently grow organic cocoa, there is a large amount of risk (both in price and in yield) involved with an estimated 30% lower yield compared with conventional (inorganic) production.

The obvious challenge for producers to produce conventionally is to obtain credit up front to purchase inorganic inputs. Given the advent of organizations like the Cocoa Abrabopa Association (CAA) established in 1998 in Ghana, credit is becoming more accessible to producers.

The current organic producers, who are constrained to do so because of a lack of microfinance opportunities to buy conventional inputs (fertilizer, fungicide, etc.), would probably switch to conventional if financing for said inputs became available, say through a microfinance program. Thus, an unintended impact of a microfinance program might be to lead to lower levels of current organic production.”

Authors: Mahrizal, L., et al.
Affiliations: Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness, University of Arkansas
Title: Necessary price premiums to incentivize Ghanaian organic cocoa production: a phased, orchard management approach
Source: HortScience 47(11)1617-1624. 2012.

African Cocoa Farmers Need to Increase Fungicide Use

Black Pod

Black Pod

70% of the world’s supply of cocoa, a key crop for producing chocolate, comes from small farms in West Africa. In this hot, moist tropical environment, cocoa trees flourish but so do organisms that infect the cocoa pods causing diseases-particularly black pod disease. Fungicides are used to a limited extent by West African farmers, but they are not sprayed often enough to prevent the disease organisms from causing significant damage. As a result, African cocoa yields and farmer incomes are low. Research has shown that for optimal yields and income, West African cocoa farmers need to spray fungicides more frequently as a recent economic analysis determined…..

“Essentially fungicides were not overused – in most cases, it was shown that net returns could be increased by using more fungicide in the study area. Specifically farmers in Osun State would have to double their current use rate to optimize fungicide use while their counterparts in Ondo State would have to triple theirs to achieve the same goal.

Based on the results of this study, it is suggested that cocoa farmers increase the quantity of fungicide used per hectare as the ratio of the marginal productivity to unit cost of fungicide is greater than unity among the respondents.”

Author: A.A. Tijani
Affiliation: Department of Agricultural Economics, Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria
Title: Economic benefits of fungicide use among cocoa farmers in Osun and Ondo states of Nigeria
Source: J. Soc. Sci., 12(1):63-70 (2006)