IVORY COAST – To overturn the low income it gets from cocoa, the Ivory Coast, which accounts for roughly 45 percent of the cocoa produced around the world, plans to start operations of the cocoa storage and processing complex based in the industrial zone of Yopougon during the fourth quarter of 2023.
The 9-ha project was launched by Prime Minister Patrick Achi, will attract an investment of about US$108m, and allows Côte d’Ivoire to clean, dry, grind, roast, and press a proportion of its cocoa harvest.
According to Koné Brahima Yves, Managing Director of the Coffee-Cocoa Council, the Atlantic Cocoa Corporation plant will be able to store 140,000 tonnes of beans and process 64,000 tonnes a year, rising to 100,000 tonnes. The aim is to be able to handle the whole of the country’s cocoa production by 2030.
In addition, the project which started last year and is projected to take 24 months to be completed, will also house a training center on the various professions exercised within the sector.
The new investment aligns with the executive’s strategy to increase the local industry’s installed grinding capacity to 1.1 million tonnes of beans by October 2023.
With more than 2 million tonnes produced per year, Ivoirian cocoa beans generate 40 percent of the country’s export earnings, accounting for 15 percent of the national GDP.
However, reports say the country receives just four percent of the chocolate industry’s estimated annual worth of US$100bn.
Since 2020, several attempts by the Ivorian government to make chocolatiers pay premiums on the price of cocoa have failed as large companies push back on anything that will eat into their margins.
In October 2022, Ivory Coast and Ghana–which supply 70 percent of the world’s cocoa–boycotted an industry meeting in Brussels, a sign that they will no longer sell the commodity at unfavorable prices.
Ivory Coast’s minister of agriculture, Kobenan Adjoumani Kouassi said: “The chocolate companies want to accumulate the maximum profit. And when they prioritize profit, it’s poor people who suffer. They must understand that it is exploitation and needs to stop.”
Ivory Coast and Ghana have an initiative called CIGCI (Côte d’Ivoire Ghana Cocoa Initiative) which aims to withhold selling their raw cocoa to Europe but rather process some of it locally to add value and increase their net financial gain.
This initiative has attracted the attention of Cameroon and Nigeria, which are eyeing to enter the cocoa cartel set up by the Presidents of the two countries to raise cocoa prices.
In 2020, both West African countries introduced the Living Income Differential (LID)–a US$400 premium placed on every tonne of cocoa transferred directly to the smallholder farmers.
The chocolate companies pay the premiums to traders that purchase the beans from large collectives around the country, who gather the harvest from local farmers, adding the premium to the price.
Media reports alleged that some chocolate companies quickly found ways to avoid it despite accepting to pay the levy.
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