Ivory Coast minister views local processing as crucial to sector

Ivory Coast has set a goal of increasing local processing of its cocoa from 30% to 50% by 2020, trade minister Souleymane Diarrassouba told attendees.

Ivorian Trade minister Souleymane Diarrassouba delivers a speech during the inauguration of a shopping mall Playce Palmeraie in Abidjan on 29 June 2017. Picture: AFP

BERLIN - Boosting cocoa processing in Ivory Coast is central to improving the sustainability of the country’s cocoa sector, the top grower’s trade minister Souleymane Diarrassouba said.

Increasing the volume of cocoa that is processed locally was a necessary step to help protect producing countries from volatility on the global market, Diarrassouba told a cocoa conference in Berlin on Monday.

A large global surplus of cocoa in the 2016/17 season (October/September) sparked a fall in New York futures in April last year to a more than nine-year low.

This prompted the Ivory Coast’s Coffee and Cocoa Council to cut the price it paid farmers for their cocoa to 700 CFA francs per kilogram from 1,100 CFA francs.

“Our government wants to establish a resilient and sustainable cocoa economy that can withstand price volatility and that generates a living income for the farmers, who are the weakest link of the chain,” Diarrassouba said.

Global chocolate makers have been buying more cocoa through schemes aimed at stamping out poverty, but benefits for farmers have been tempered by falling premiums under the biggest and most popular of these programmes.

Ivory Coast has set a goal of increasing local processing of its cocoa from 30% to 50% by 2020, Diarrassouba told attendees.

The International Cocoa Organisation has forecast that Ivory Coast cocoa grindings in the 2017/18 season (October/September) will rise by 23,000 tonnes to 600,000 tonnes.

The inter-governmental body put the Ivory Coast’s crop for the current season at 2 million tonnes or about 43% of global production.

The government has also made efforts to improve the investment climate in Ivory Coast in a bid to attract the foreign investment it needs to boost processing, he added.