Step 1: Identify Stakeholders and Plan Engagement

The project team engaged with a range of stakeholders and experts at each step of the assessment process. Engagement activities included:

  • A stakeholder workshop in Honiara (August 2017)
  • A field visit to a working cocoa farm and interviews with growers (August 2017)
  • Email contacts with researchers and cocoa farming stakeholders in Solomon Islands (January–August 2017).

The key stakeholders for this case study included:

  • the Solomon Islands Ministry of Agriculture and Lands (MAL), including policy makers and extension experts
  • Solomon Islands Meteorological Service
  • Cocoa farmers in the Guadalcanal Plain
  • Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme
  • CSIRO Climate Science Centre.

This engagement was essential in assessing and identifying which climate variables are more important for cocoa farming than others, and led directly to some changes in identification and interpretation of the relevant research data and information to inform the assessment, including:

  • The impact of floods – the assessment initially didn’t look at floods, but the importance of this impact became clear from interviewing cocoa farmers about their experience and observations on climate and weather in the past.
  • Fungal disease conditions – the assessment determined that not only does high annual rainfall create the conditions for fungal disease to grow, but heavy rainfall on the cocoa pods increases the spread of fungal disease.
  • Flowering – it was mentioned by cocoa farmers during the field visit that heavy (extreme) rainfall events often destroy the flowering buds resulting in lower cocoa fruit yield.

Other important considerations that were identified through stakeholder engagement were:

  • The list of potential adaptations including practical off-farm/supply-chain options such as the farmer benefits from having a warehouse away from the farm to safeguard harvested crops during floods.
  • Ensuring the usefulness of the final risk assessment outputs at national level – it was identified that the primary target group is MAL decision makers for planning purposes, who then have the responsibility for using the information to raise awareness with cocoa growers. Hence, two different reports were needed to be prepared to disseminate information from the assessment to the full range of ‘next’ and ‘end’ users.
  • The need to develop capacity for sectoral decision makers and for farmers at a local community scale on climate change, extremes and variability, and how to use climate change knowledge as a decision-making tool.
  • A detailed assessment is ultimately required to achieve a more comprehensive climate adaptation response, but this rapid assessment approach is appropriate as the entry point.