The Unfortunate Casualty Of The World’s Love For Chocolate

Photo credit: Lisa Fotios

You take that first bite. Let it rest upon your tongue. Slowly, slowly it melts in your mouth. The rich palette of flavors opens like a colorful spring bouquet. A look of contentment radiates from your face. You savor each note until they all dissolve.

That’s what chocolate can do to your senses. But, satisfying the world’s sweet tooth comes at a high price. The cost? Ghana is losing its rainforest faster than any other country in the world.

Clearing for cocoa is the leading cause of deforestation in Ghana.

Africa produces seventy-five percent of the world’s cocoa. West Africa produces more cocoa in mass than any other region in the world.

Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire combined produce sixty percent of the world’s cocoa. As a matter of fact, four of the top five cocoa-producing nations are on the continent of Africa.

Between 2017-2018, Ghana’s rainforest loss increased twenty-eight percent. Côte d’Ivoire’s loss increased twenty-six percent. During this period, Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire suffered the largest rise in deforestation than any tropical country.

The loss of African rainforests negatively impacts the ecosystem. Rainforests provide homes for animals like – orangutans, mountain gorillas, jaguars, and tigers. Trees in the rainforests are hundreds to thousands of years old and may be irreplaceable. The rainforest stores the most carbon than any other forests.

Countries and companies are trying to reduce deforestation by 2020, but they’re not on track. Here’s the kicker. These multinational companies are raking in $100 billion. Africa only reaps two percent of that industry. I’ll do the math for you. That’s only $2 billion.

In Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, these are smallholder cocoa farms. That means the farmer owns, maintains, and lives on the farm. Therefore, the person doing the heavy lifting is not getting a fair share of profits from the industry.

This rouses my ire. Some cocoa farmers have never even tasted chocolate. So these multinational companies are profiting off of a resource African farmers hardly consume. Yet the companies are not on track to reduce deforestation.

Not to mention, concerns have been raised regarding Côte d’Ivoire’s child labor infringements. It’s been reported that the children sometimes have a one hundred hour workweek, suffer physical abuse, and are not provided an education.

Now, think back to that piece of chocolate melting delicately on your tongue. Opening its rich palette of flavors like a colorful spring bouquet. Does it still taste as sweet as before? 

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