COTE D’IVOIRE – Cote d’Ivoire, the world’s leading cocoa producer, is grappling with a significant decline in cocoa production, raising concerns about the livelihoods of its population heavily dependent on the cash crop.  

Exporters estimate that the current season’s cocoa production will be around 1.9 million tonnes, a notable drop from the nearly 2.3 million tonnes harvested in the last season. 

The decline in cocoa production is attributed to a combination of adverse weather conditions and the prevalence of crop diseases, particularly the notorious “Swollen Shoot” disease affecting cocoa tree shoots.  

Heavy rains in recent months have wreaked havoc on the harvest, especially in the southwest and central-west regions, which are the primary cocoa production areas in the country. 

The government’s announcement of a harvest ranging between 450,000 tonnes and 500,000 tonnes for the period from April 1 to Sept. 30 reflects a substantial reduction compared to the 600,000 tonnes recorded in the previous similar period.  

Additionally, Reuters indicated that cocoa shipments to ports are expected to decline by 28.5% year-on-year in the first quarter of the 2023/2024 season due to the erratic weather conditions. 

Agronomist Frederic Kouadio highlighted the challenges faced by cocoa farmers, including a lack of interest in cocoa cultivation, soil degradation, and plant diseases.  

The aging cocoa trees and low soil fertility, exacerbated by insufficient access to compost and fertilizer, further compound the difficulties faced by farmers. 

Global cocoa prices have experienced a sudden surge in recent weeks as experts express concern over the declining cocoa harvests in Cote d’Ivoire.  

The country’s pivotal role in the global cocoa market makes any disruptions in its production a matter of international significance. 

In 2022, Cote d’Ivoire produced a substantial 2.4 million tonnes of cocoa. However, the current challenges cast a shadow on the country’s ability to maintain such high levels of production in the face of increasingly unpredictable weather patterns and persistent crop diseases.  

The livelihoods of countless farmers and the global cocoa market are now at stake, underscoring the urgency of finding sustainable solutions to the issues affecting cocoa production in the region. 

Earlier, the Cote d’Ivoire-Ghana Cocoa Initiative elected Bryan Acheampong as chair, who promised to utilize his position to further the interests of cocoa producers in the two countries. 

Under his watch as an agriculture minister, Ghana has raised the state-guaranteed cocoa price paid to its farmers by more than 63% in a bid to boost income and prevent beans from being smuggled to neighbouring countries.   

 

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