12 noon - 1pm
Thursday 19 April 2018

Resilience of cocoa farming to climate variation

Dr Lorna Wilson (University of Bath) will be speaking.

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  • Dr Lorna Wilson (University of Bath)


I will provide a brief introduction to the University of Bath’s Institute for Mathematical Innovation, and some of the industrial mathematics that I have undertaken in my unique role as a commercial research associate. I will then present my research into mathematical modelling of the variation in on-farm cocoa yields resulting from weather effects in Ghana.

This project builds upon the initial work carried out on behalf of Mondelez at a three day Agri-Food industry study group with Innovate UK in January 2017. One of the challenges facing cocoa farmers is large variability in crop yield from one year to another. It is believed that climate is one of the biggest drivers of this variation and research into the impact of long term climate change on cocoa production is underway. Such yield variation causes large fluctuations in income for farmers and can hinder investment (either from the farmer or from external lenders). Being able to model the potential variation in on-farm cocoa yields due to climate could significantly aid sustainable development of resilient farming communities.

I will talk about the ODE model proposed at the study group which I found to be insufficient to capture the importance of cocoa pod age. A full age-based PDE model is considered too complex to generate practical results. I will present a delay differential equation (DDE) approach, that is simple enough to be effectively  parameterised with the data available, but still able to capture the ageing of cocoa pods. I will compare the promising results of the model output to the yield data for various statistically selected rainfall inputs.