Assessment of current and future suitability of cocoa agroforestry systems in Cameroon
Nele Gloy1, Abel Chemura1, Priscilla Kephe1, Paula Aschenbrenner1, Christoph Gornott2
1Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Germany
Climate change is projected to become very limiting for cocoa production in Cameroon which can increase drastically the pressure on forest land as cocoa is already now a major driver for deforestation. Therefore, a comprehensive understanding of climate risks that are associated to cocoa production and change in suitability is key for future resilient land use planning. Agroforestry is a common and promising strategy in the face of climate change impacts on cocoa production due to the reduction of heat stress by providing shade and its various co-benefits. Crop suitability models are used in assessing the impact of climate change on season-long crop production potential and provide important information for projections of production rates. In this study, we developed an approach to assess the vulnerability of cocoa production in agroforestry systems under climate change considering the most common tree species in cocoa plantations in the Central Region of Cameroon. We simulated first the general suitability for cocoa under current and projected climate change and then compared the suitability under an emulated agroforestry system. We considered various biophysical parameters such as shading and micro-climate regulation. Stakeholder and expert’s opinion were considered through interviews applying a probabilistic elicitation approach to complete and improve data availability. We modelled future climate projections with Global Climate Models covering the time period 2015-2100 under three Representative Concentration Pathways scenarios of climate change from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Our results show an increased vulnerability of future cocoa production and important shifts of suitable areas. As farmers tend to plant cocoa also in areas that are limited for cocoa optimum growth, this can have a significant impact on future yield development. Agroforestry increases the average suitability for cocoa production therefore should be considered in building climate-resilient agricultural systems. However, factors as the age or variety of the trees can affect the resilience of the agroforestry system.
Keywords: Agroforestry, Cameroon, climate change, cocoa, suitability modelling
Contact Address: Nele Gloy, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impacts Research , RD2 - Climate Resilience, Telegraphenberg A 62, 14412 Potsdam, Germany, e-mail: nele.gloypik-potsdam.de