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The political ecology of cocoa in Ghana: Past, present and future challenges

Chris Bryant and Matthew I. Mitchell

Natural Resources Forum, 2021, vol. 45, issue 4, 350-365

Abstract: In recent years, many have raised concerns regarding the need to develop sustainable practices in the cocoa sector and to prepare for impending threats associated with climate change. Although evidence suggests more needs to be done to address the environmental concerns surrounding cocoa, the sustainability of the sector cannot be understood without recognizing other socio‐economic and socio‐political factors. This paper uses a case study of Ghana—the world's second largest producer of cocoa—to problematize the often‐simplistic claims concerning the fate of the crop. While the paper draws upon a diverse disciplinary body of literature, it uses a political ecology lens to analyse the multifaceted problems facing the cocoa industry. The paper derives insights from 131 interviews conducted with a wide range of stakeholder groups in Ghana's capital (Accra) and leading cocoa‐producing regions (Ashanti and Western). The analysis reveals the need to challenge dominant narratives about the cocoa‐climate change nexus, as it highlights other threats to the sector. This includes the difficulty of securing youth labourers, the problem of “galamsey” (i.e., illegal artisanal mining), the issue of land scarcity, and the politicization of migrant workers.

Date: 2021
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Handle: RePEc:wly:natres:v:45:y:2021:i:4:p:350-365