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Causes of Cocoa Yield Decline in Ivory Coast

Causes of Cocoa Yield Decline in Ivory CoastPhoto from Unsplash

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Ivory Coast is the world’s largest producer of cocoa, accounting for about 40% of the global market. However, in the past two decades, the country has faced a significant decline in its cocoa yield, affecting the livelihoods of millions of farmers and the national economy.


The main factors for this include:

  • Climate Change
  • Pests and Disease
  • Aging Trees
  • Political Instability

Ivory Coast – Cocoa 20 Years of Declining Yield

Climate Change

One of the major causes of cocoa yield decline in Ivory Coast is climate change, which has altered the rainfall patterns, temperature, and humidity in the cocoa-growing regions. Cocoa trees require a humid and warm climate, with an average temperature of 25°C and an annual rainfall of 1500-2000 mm.

However, due to global warming, the country has experienced more frequent and severe droughts, as well as higher temperatures and lower humidity. These conditions have reduced the soil moisture, increased the water stress, and affected the flowering and fruiting of the cocoa trees. According to a study by the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), climate change could reduce the suitable area for cocoa cultivation in Ivory Coast by 28% by 2050, and by 89% by 2080.


Deforestation has a direct impact on yield, by reducing soil quality and also a secondary impact – as is increased pests which then decrease yield further.  There are a wide variety of reasons for deforestation, regardless of  of the reason the impact is significant on cocoa yield in Ivory coast. EU Deforestation Regulations will impact this in future.

Pests and Diseases

Another cause of cocoa yield decline in Ivory Coast is the outbreak of pests and diseases that attack the cocoa trees and pods. Some of the most common pests are the cocoa pod borer, the cocoa mirid, and the cocoa swollen shoot virus (CSSV). The cocoa pod borer is a moth that lays eggs inside the cocoa pods, and the larvae feed on the beans, causing significant losses. The cocoa mirid is a bug that sucks the sap from the cocoa branches, leaves, and pods, reducing the vigor and productivity of the trees. According to the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF), pests and diseases can reduce the cocoa yield by up to 40% in Ivory Coast.

Aging Trees

A third cause of cocoa yield decline in Ivory Coast is the aging of the cocoa trees, which reduces their productivity and quality. Cocoa trees have a lifespan of about 25-30 years, and their yield peaks at around 10 years. However, many cocoa farmers in Ivory Coast have not replanted or renovated their cocoa farms for decades, due to lack of resources, knowledge, or incentives. As a result, the average age of the cocoa trees in the country is estimated to be over 20 years, and their yield is below the potential. According to the WCF, aging trees can reduce the cocoa yield by up to 25% in Ivory Coast.

Political Instability

A fourth cause of cocoa yield decline in Ivory Coast is the political instability that has affected the country since the late 1990s. The country has experienced two civil wars, in 2002-2003 and 2010-2011, as well as several episodes of violence and unrest. These conflicts have disrupted the cocoa sector, by damaging the infrastructure, reducing the access to inputs and markets, and increasing the insecurity and uncertainty for the farmers. Moreover, the political instability has hindered the implementation of effective policies and programs to support the cocoa sector, such as quality control, certification, research and development, and environmental protection. According to the World Bank, political instability can reduce the cocoa yield by up to 20% in Ivory Coast.


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