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Western chocolate corporations causing new 'Dust Bowl' in third-world countries with destructive cacao farming practices

Cacao farming

(NaturalNews) The effects of the Western World's less-than-ideal way of farming, coupled with its need for greed, are being felt in countries across the globe – and that's definitely not a good thing. In particular, cacao farmers are left scratching their heads, frantically searching for a way to meet a surge in chocolate demand, all the while lacking the resources to make it possible.

Yaa Amekudzi, who runs Mondelez's cocoa sustainability operations in Ghana, says that, "They need to change the way they farm." If Mondelez isn't familiar to you, perhaps Oreo cookies and Cadbury Dairy Milk bars are; Mondelez is the maker of those popular food items. Amekudzi is concerned, saying that, "We don't have the forest cover we had, we don't have the rain our grandfathers had, and the soil isn't as fertile." She explains that young people don't have it in them to carry on the traditions of other generations, often leaving "... to seek a better life in the city."(1)

So becomes the story of what happens when Western values seep into other cultures and environments: Those areas start to experience many of the same issues that are unfolding in the U.S. In other words, destructive habits and a collective disregard for preserving the natural goodness of the earth ensues.

Welcome to the Dust Bowl mentality ...

Is a Dust Bowl – much like the Great Depression when the lands of the Great Plains fell victim to man's make-room-for-me-and-my-greedy-needs attitude – spreading globally?

Of course it is.

It's been happening, and it continues to happen at breakneck speeds. Just as environmental problems happened as a result of the Dust Bowl, when millions of acres of land were destroyed in the name of over-plowing, over-planting and over-grazing – ultimately leading to massive dust swirls that drifted over the barren lands – similar problems appear to be looming in other parts of the world. After all, the changes that Amekudzi speaks of have Dust Bowl-esque issues written all over them: the depletion of lands, bad soil, diminished crop production and people fleeing in hopes of a better life elsewhere.

An 'economic dead end' for farmers, thanks to chemicals, bad farming practices

Another case in point: It's explained that Ghana's cacao farming practices leave much to be desired. According to the Ghana Permaculture Institute, cacao is a tremendous industry. However, along with a big industry comes big ideas, many of which are destructive. The site outlines this situation as follows:

The problem is, like many big agricultural industries, the cocoa is increasingly being grown in monoculture plantations using new hybrid "high yielding" varieties. To achieve these high yields you need to use chemical fertilisers. The inevitable problems of pests, diseases and loss of soil fertility monoculture causes are being dealt with by the use of lots of chemical herbicides, pesticides and fungicides – all very bad for the health of the land, water and local people, and also an economic dead end for the farmers ...(2)

The problem then spirals out of control: along with all the chemicals and fungicides, soil becomes depleted of nutrients; its fertility is compromised; and the entire system in which root systems and fungal networks should harmonize is instead disrupted – all from harmful methods to keep big production, and big money, flowing in. But the thing is, it eventually catches up with you, as farmers are beginning to realize, as they stare at dying crops and dwindling financials.(2)

Attempts to fix the problem exist, but will people listen?

To address the struggles with cacao production in Ghana, Amekudzi says she tries to provide farmers with more effective farming solutions. She often gives advice about how to use fertilizer, prune trees and space seedlings better.(1)

As for the Ghana Permaculture Institute, they too suggest a better way of doing things. They advise permaculture, not the ineffective monoculture that currently exists. To this end, this means avoiding chemicals and fixing broken farming practices, which in turn leads to better care of trees, plants and soil – and hopefully, improved cacao crop yields.(2)

But will Amekudzi's advice and the suggestions for permaculture be enough to bring about the changes that are so desperately needed in the area?

One can only hope, because a new way of doing things must be put in place. The Western corporation mentality – on many levels, not just cocoa farming – must change, for the health of the planet and its inhabitants.

Sources for this article include:

(1) MarketWatch.com

(2) PermacultureGhana.Wordpress.com

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