It’s not time to start hoarding Hersheys in your basement just yet, but be warned: The world is on the brink of a chocolate drought.
“The world is running out of cocoa farmers,” the report states. “Younger generations no longer want to be in cocoa. Older generations are reaching their life expectancy.”
Cocoa farming is brutally hard work, and the crop’s buyers have pushed the profit margins so low that many farmers are making fractions of pennies on the dollar for every harvest they push out. Harsh heat, coupled with the physical labor associated with hacking open of cocoa pods with machetes, and a harvesting and curing process make the extraction of cocoa no easy feat, so it’s no wonder why many new farmers don’t feel that it’s worth all the trouble. Conditions are so terrible in some parts of the world that people refer to the trade as chocolate slavery.
A video that depicted cocoa farmers tasting chocolate for the first time went viral last year, as it depicted a world of thankless labor that so few of us with a sweet tooth ever get to see. The men above are representative of most African cocoa farmers, who struggle to make ends meet despite supplying some of the richest nations in the world with dessert.
“There is a concern about whether incentives are in place, whether the training and input will be there to attract the next generation,” Guyton says. “There are a lot of land tenure issues, too. Farms are getting smaller as farmers pass on land to multiple children.”
A coalition of some of the world’s largest chocolate sellers are hoping to spark interest in cocoa growth with a new initiative in Africa called Cocoa Action, a program that’s designed to increase access to the latest tools and technology for cocoa farmers. If they can’t generate enough interest across fertile lands, there’s no guarantee that we’ll be enjoying the brown stuff for much longer.
*Via NPR. *
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