This article draws attention to the unfolding debate concerning forest cover loss, climatic change, and declining cocoa production in the Gold Coast (Colonial Ghana) during the early twentieth century. It argues that, although desiccationist theory was prevalent, its acceptance among colonial authorities in the Gold Coast was far from hegemonic. There were important dissenting colonial voices, particularly among agriculturalists, who argued that declining cocoa yields were due to plant diseases, most notably cocoa swollen shoot disease. It was based on the latter’s non-environmental model of disease transmission, rather than the premises of desiccation science, that the government’s postwar "cutting out campaign" of cocoa was predicated. Nevertheless, the foresters ’ correlation of the deterioration of cocoa areas with fears of desiccation was not without its effects on state practice, providing the rationale for an accelerated program of forest reservations in the 1930s.

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