The disturbing news spread like wildfire in forums and websites across the Internet: Chocolate could be as rare and pricey as caviar in 20 years’ time, experts claim. The mere thought will foment despair among candy-lovers the world over.

Despite this, the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF), a leading industry group in promoting sustainable cocoa farming, doesn’t believe that prediction has to become reality and is helping farmers, in partnership with businesses, governments and research institutes, with the tools they need to succeed.

John Mason, founder of the Ghana-based Nature Conservation Research Council, told British newspaper The Independent that shortages in production in Africa — which produces around 70 percent of world cocoa — will have worrying consequences. “In 20 years, chocolate will be like caviar. It will become so rare and so expensive that the average Joe just won’t be able to afford it,” Mason is quoted as saying.

However, Bill Guyton, the president of the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF), is more optimistic. On a recent trip to West Africa, Bill visited a farmer who, having completed technical training, was producing nearly two tons per hectare — three times the average — by using improved planting materials, proper tree spacing, fertilizers and pest controls.

What can be done?

In order to meet growing demand for chocolate products, farmers must get better conditions, Bill Guyton if WCF tells Metro. “Cocoa farming will need to become more professionalized and the social; economic and environmental conditions for the millions of small-scale farmers who grow the crop in West Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia need to be improved.”

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