Preserving cocoa biodiversity – how much would it cost to save chocolate?

  • The Global Network for Cacao Genetic Resources has estimated the annual cost of safeguarding the preservation of global genetic cacao diversity at $1,832,736, published in a new report ‘The Global Strategy for the Conservation and Use of Cacao Genetic Resources’.
  • Despite its importance in global trade and to the livelihoods of several million small farmers in the tropics who are involved in its cultivation, cocoa was not designated as a priority crop in the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA).
  • The future of the world cocoa economy depends on the availability of genetic diversity and the sustainable use of this broad genetic base to breed improved varieties. Many factors, including changes in climate and land use, deforestation, pests and diseases and extreme weather events are contributing to an irreversible loss of the cacao genetic diversity. The specific goal of The Global Strategy is to optimise the conservation and maximize the use of cacao genetic resources as the foundation of a sustainable cocoa economy.

International collaboration is essential for effective management of cacao genetic resources, however funding is currently below optimal levels, while support for the two international collections is not secure over the long term and many national collections are struggling. With the UK chocolate industry worth £3.6 billion, the UK should be aware of the situation and the need to support the Global Strategy in order to preserve cocoa diversity and promote a sustainable economy for cocoa.

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About Julia Chatterton

Systems modeller with a particular expertise in food, farming and agricultural systems. Working with life cycle assessment methods for over 4 years to assess and analyse the environmental burdens associated with food and other production systems.
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