Carbon storage in cocoa growing systems across different agroecological zones in Ghana

Main Article Content

John Tennyson Afele
Evans Dawoe
Akwasi Adutwum Abunyewa
Victor Afari-Sefa
Richard Asare


Shade grown cocoa systems have been credited with stocking high quantities of carbon and therefore possess the potential to mitigate climate change and help achieve targets of the United Nations Collaborative Program on Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+). This study quantifies and compares carbon stored as well as estimated cocoa yields in two shade management types (i.e., shaded and full sun) across three agroecological zones: Dry Semi-Deciduous Fire Zone (DSFZ), Moist Evergreen Zone (MEZ) and Upland Evergreen Moist Zone (UEMZ) in Ghana.  Results show that Soil organic carbon (SOC) stored decreased with increasing soil depth across all agroecological zones. Cocoa farms with shade trees stored 6 times more soil carbon (35.90±1.56 Mg C ha-1) compared to the full sun systems (5.98±1.56 Mg C ha-1). Carbon stocks in the DSFZ and the MEZ were 61.73±1.02 Mg C/ha and 67.46±1.02 Mg C ha-1 respectively whiles the UEMZ recorded 85.10 Mg C ha-1. Across agroecological zones, pod count in the UEMZ and the MEZ were similar but varied from that of the DSFZ, which recorded the least. Wilting of pods and cherrelles, was minimal and similar in the UMEZ and the MEZ but was significantly higher in the DSFZ. It is recommended that farmers should be encouraged through strong policies to adopt the integration of shade trees in the production of cocoa in Ghana to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Article Details

How to Cite
Afele, J., Dawoe, E., Abunyewa, A., Afari-Sefa, V., & Asare, R. (2021). Carbon storage in cocoa growing systems across different agroecological zones in Ghana. Pelita Perkebunan (a Coffee and Cocoa Research Journal), 37(1).
Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:

    1. Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
    1. Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
    1. Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).


Author Biographies

Akwasi Adutwum Abunyewa, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Department of Agroforestry, Kumasi-Ghana

Associate Professor of Soil and Remote Sensing, Head of Department of Agroforestry, KNUST -Ghana

Richard Asare, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Accra-Ghana

The lead scientist for cocoa research for development activities in IITA.
Abdulai, I., Jassogne, L., Graefe, S., Asare, R, Van Asten, P., Läderach, P. (2017). Characterization of cocoa production, income diversification and shade tree management along a climate gradient in Ghana. PLoS ONE 13(4): e0195777.
Ahenkorah, Y., Akrofi, G. and Adri, A. (1974). The end of the first cocoa shade and manurial experiment at the cocoa research institute of Ghana. Journal of Horticultural Sciences 49:43–51.
Ahenkorah, Y., Halm, B., Appiah, M., Akrofi, G. and Yirenkyi, J. (1987). Twenty years’ results from a shade and fertilizer trial on Amazon cocoa (Theobroma cacao) in Ghana. Experimental Agriculture 23(01):31–39.
Amooh, M.K. (2017). Shade Management Options in Cocoa Agroforestry Systems in Two Ecological Zones in Ghana. MPhil Thesis, KNUST, Kumasi, Ghana. 130p
Anim-Kwapong, G. and Frimpong, E. (2005). ‘Vulnerability of agriculture to climate change-impact of climate change on cocoa production’. Final Report submitted to the Netherlands climate change studies assistance program: NCAP; 2
Akpa, S.I.C., Odeh, I.O.A., Bishop, T.F.A., Hartermink, A.E., Amapu, I.Y. (2016). Total soil organic carbon and carbon sequestration potential in Nigeria. Geoderma 271, 202–215.
Asare, R. (2019). The nexus between cocoa production and deforestation. In: Ghana, an agricultural exception in West Africa? GRAIN DE SEL Magazine: No. 78: 26-27 Available at Retrieved - July-December 2019
Asare, R., Bo, M., Asare, R., Anim-Kwapong, G., and Ræbild, R. (2018). ‘On-farm cocoa yields increase with canopy cover of shade trees in two agro-ecological zones in Ghana’. Climate and Development. DOI: 10.1080/17565529.2018.1442805
Asare, R., Asare, R. A., Asante, W., Markussen, B., and Ræbild, A. (2017). Influences of shading and fertilization on on-farm yields of cocoa in Ghana. Experimental Agriculture, 53(3), 416–431
Asase, A and Tetteh, D.A. (2016). Tree diversity, carbon stocks, and soil nutrients in cocoa- dominated and mixed food crops agroforestry systems compared to natural forest in South-East Ghana. Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems. 40(1), 96-113.
Beer, J. (1987). Advantages, disadvantages and desirable characteristics of shade trees for coffee, cacao and tea. Agroforestry Systems 5(1):3–13.
Blaser, J.W., Oppong, J., Hart, S.P., Landolt, J., Yeboah, E. and Six, J. (2018). Climate- smart sustainable agriculture in low-to-intermediate shade agroforests. Nature Sustainability,1(5): 234 DOI: 10.1038/s41893-018-0062-8
Cairns, M.A., Brown, S., Helmer, H.E. and Baumgardner, G.A. (1997). Root Biomass Allocation in the World’s upland Forests. Springer. Oecologia 111(1), 1-11
Carr, K.V.M and Lockwood, G. (2011). The water relations and irrigation requirements of cocoa (Theobroma cacao L.). A review. Experimental Agriculture 47 (04):653-676
Dawoe, E. (2009). Conversion of natural forest to cocoa agroforest in lowland humid Ghana: impact on plant biomass production, organic carbon and nutrient dynamics, Ph.D. Thesis, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology; p. 279.
Daymond, A. J. and Hadley, P. (2008). Differential effects of temperature on fruit development and bean quality of contrasting genotypes of cacao (Theobroma cacao). Annals of Applied Biology, 153 (2). pp. 175-185. ISSN 0003-4746 doi: 7348.2008.00246.x
Derying, D., Elliott, J., Folberth, C., Muller, C., Pugh, A.M., Boote, J.K., Conway, D., Ruane, A.C., Gerten, D., Jones, W.J., Khabarov, N., Olin, S., Schaphoff, S., Schmid, E., Yang, H. and Rosenzweig, C. (2016). Regional disparities in the beneficial effect of rising CO2 concentrations on crop water productivity. Nature Climate Change. DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2995
Dixon, R. (1995). ‘Sources of sinks of greenhouse gasses. Agroforestry Systems: ;31(2):99–116.
Dutta, D.N., Ravisanker, A.L., Meena, P.C., Ghasal, L.K., Kumar, A.K., Panwar, A.S and Bhaskar,S. (2017). Carbon sequestration and GHG measurement in IFModels, ICAR-AICP on Integrated Farming systems. ICAR-Indian Institute of farming systems Research, Modipuran Meerut -25,110, Uttar Predash, India, pp 31-33
FAO. (1997). Estimating biomass and biomass change of tropical forests: a primer. FAO Forestry Paper 134, FAO, Rome, 55pp.
Ferreira, N.W., Lacerda, F.C., Costa, C.R. and Filho, M.S. (2015). Effect of water stress on species with different abundance: the importance of stress Resistance Syndrome in Secondary dry tropical forest. Acta Botanica Brasilica Vol.29 No.3
Gama-Rodrigues, E.F., Nair, P.K.R., Nair, D.V., Gama-Rodrigues, A.C., Baligar, V.C., and Marchado, R.C.R. (2010). Carbon Storage in Soil Size Fractions Under Two Cocoa Agroforestry Systems in Bahia, Brazil. Environmental Management (2010) 45:274–283.
Ghana Statistical Service. (2010). Population and Housing Census 2010. Available at 0Wiawso.pdf (Accessed on 24th June 24, 2019).
Hadley, P., End, M., Taylor, S.T. and Pettipher, G.L. (1994). Environmental regulation of vegetative and reproductive growth in cocoa grown in controlled glasshouse conditions. In: Proceedings of the International Cocoa Conference: Challenges in the 90s, pp. 319–331
Handley, R.L. (2016). The effect of climate change on reproduction of Theobroma cacao L. Doctor of Philosophy. University of Reading. UK.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. (2001). Climate Change. The synthesis reports. Cambridge University Press, UK
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. (2007). Climate change 2007 the physical science basis. Agenda.; 6:07.
Keenan, T.F and Williams, C.A. (2018). The terrestrial carbon sinks. Annual Review of Environment and Resources 2018 43:1, 219-243
Kimball, B.A and Idso, S.B. (1983). Increasing atmospheric CO2 effects on crop yield, water use and climate. U.S Water Conservation Laboratory, 4331 E. Broadway, Phoenix, AZ 85040. U.S.A
King, B. (2014). Trees grow faster and store more carbon as they age. Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Tropical Forest Canopy in Panama. Available at http// they-age (Accessed on 6th November 2019).
Kohl, M., Neupane, P.R. and Loftfiomran, N. (2017). The impact of tree age on biomass growth and carbon accumulation capacity. A retrospective analysis using tree ring data of three tropical tree species in natural forest of Suiname. Biodiversity Conservation. PLoS ONE 12(8): e0181187.
Lin, B.B. (2010). The role of agroforestry in reducing water loss through soil evaporation and crop transpiration in coffee agroecosystem. Agriculture and Forest Meterology. 150(4):510-518
Macías, C. A. S., Alegre Orihuela, J. C., and Iglesias Abad, S. (2017). Estimation of above- ground live biomass and carbon stocks in different plant formations and in the soil of dry forests of the Ecuadorian coast. Food and Energy Security, 6(4), 1– 7.
Madsen, A. B and Helledie, M.K. (2018). Climate Change effect on cocoa production in Ghana. A case study of full sun and agroforestry systems in Ashanti and Western Regions. Master’s Thesis Report. University of Copenhagen - Faculty of Science. Denmark
Martinez-Alcantara, B., Martinez-Cuenca, M.R., Bermejo, A., Legaz, F. and Quonones, A. (2016). Liquid organic fertilizers for sustainable agriculture: Nutrient Uptake of organic versus mineral fertilizers in citrus trees.
Mekong River Commission. (2013). Climate Change and Adaptation Initiative. Glossary of Terms and Definitions on Climate Change and Adaptation. pp 6. Available at Definitions-on-CCA-Eng-04072013.pdf
Minasny, B., Malone, B.P., McBratney, A.B., Angers, D.A., Arrouays, D., Chambers, A., Chaplot, V., Chen, Z.S., Cheng, K., Das, B.S. and Field, D.J. (2017). Soil carbon 4 per mille. Geoderma, 292, pp.59-86.
Ministry of Food and Agricultural. (2016). Annual Report. Available at (Accessed on June 24, 2019).
Mohammed, M.A., Robinson, J.S., Midmore, D and Verhoef, A. (2016). Carbon storage in Ghanaian cocoa ecosystem. Carbon Balance and Management. Vol 11(6). Pp 2- 8
Nadège, M.T., Zapfack, L., Chimi, D.C., Kabelong, B.L., Forbi, P.F., Tsopmejio, T.I., Tajeukem, V.C., Ntonmen, Y.A.F., Tabue, M.R.B and Nasang, J. M. (2018): Carbon storage potential of cacao agroforestry systems of different age and management intensity, Available at: of_cacao_agroforestry_systems_of_different_age_and_management_intensity [Accessed Nov 05 2019]. Climate and Development.
Nowak, J.D., Greenfield, E.F., Hoehn, R.E. and Lapoint, E. (2013). Carbon storage and sequestration by trees in urban and community areas of the United States. Environmental Pollution. Elsevier (178) 229-236
Padi, B. and Owusu, G.K. (1998). Towards an integrated pest management for sustainable cocoa production in Ghana. Proceedings, 1st International Workshop on Sustainable Cocoa Growing, Panama City, Panama. March 30 – April 2, 1998.
Pandey, S., Singh, H. and Singh, S.J. (2013). Effect of environmental conditions on decoposition of eight woody species of a Dry Tropical Forest. Plant Biosystems. 148. 10.1080/11263504.2013.772923
Post, W.M. and Kwon, K.C. (2000). Soil carbon sequestration and land-use change: processes and potential. Global Change Biology.;6(3):317–27.
Rohr, T., Manzoni, S., Feng, X., Menezes, C.S.R and Porporato, A. (2013). Effect of Rainfall Seasonality on Carbon Storage in Typical Dry Ecosystem. JGR Biogeosciences. Vol 118, Issue 3.
Saj, S., Jagoret, P., and Todem-Ngogue, H. (2013). Carbon storage and density dynamics of associated trees in three contrasting Theobroma cacao agroforests of Central Cameroon. Agroforestry Systems, 87(6), 1309–1320.
Somarribaa, E., Rolando, C., Luis O, Miguel, Héctor, D., Tania, E., Henry, M., Guadalupe, Á., Estefany,V., Carlos, A., Eduardo, S and Olivier, D. (2013). Carbon stocks and cocoa yields in agroforestry systems of Central America. Agriculture, Ecosystem and Environment. Elsevier, Oxford, pp 101–110 Pp 2-13
Torres, B., Jadan O., Aguirre P., Hinojosa L. and Gunter S. (2014). Contribution of Traditional Agroforestry to Climate Change Adaptation in the Ecuadorian Amazon: The Chakra System. In: Leal Filho W. (Ed.). Handbook of Climate Change Adaptation. Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 1-19.
University of Utah. "How trees affect the weather: Trees' water-use strategies can intensify droughts." Science Daily. 24 June 2019. Available at . Retrieved 21st July 2020
Vaast, P. and Somarriba, E. (2014). Trade-offs between crop intensification and ecosystem services; the role of agroforestry in cocoa cultivation. Agroforestry systems 88(6), 947-956
Vigneri, M. (2007). Drivers of cocoa production growth in Ghana. ODI Project Briefing, (4).
Wade, A.S.I., Asase, A., Hadley, P., Mason, J., Ofori-Frimpong, K., Preece, D., Spring, N. and Norris, K. (2010). Management strategies for maximizing carbon storage and tree species diversity in cocoa growing landscapes. Agriculture Ecosystem Environment;138(3–4):324–34
William R. L. Anderegg, A.T. Trugman, D. R. Bowling, G. Salvucci, S.E Tuttle. (2019). Plant functional traits and climate influence drought intensification and land atmosphere feedbacks. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201904747 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1904747116