IVORY COAST- Le Conseil du Cafe-Cacao (CCC), Ivory Coast’s cocoa regulator, has announced plans to reform the world’s largest cocoa producer’s domestic market within a year, which is intended to mitigate the influence of middlemen in the sector and overpayment through an intricate digital system. 

The reform targets middlemen who act as buyers and scouts sourcing cocoa beans from farms and reselling to exporters. 

It will build on the traceability and certification system currently deployed by the CCC. The system is expected to be operational at the start of the 2024/2025 season. The system will help mitigate the influence of middlemen in the cocoa sector through digitizing payments, making all sales and purchases directly between the farmer, domestic processors and exporters. However, priority will be given to domestic processors.  

The move is expected to help the CCC reach its target of enabling domestic processors to grind at least half of all cocoa beans produced in the Ivory Coast. 

The system is based on the farmers identification cards which will also double as payment cards. According to CCC, cocoa cooperatives are the only intermediaries that will actively participate in the system. The regulator has also revealed 580 out of 2,000 cooperatives have already participated in the system, together with 22 out of 100 exporters in the country. 

The regulator has also identified 1 million farmers to actively participate in the system. The CCC has already issued 900,000special identification cards to these farmers. 

Arsene Dadie, CCC’s Director of Domestic Marketing, said, “The intermediaries who collect the product to resell to other intermediaries will disappear because they will not benefit from this system.” 

The reforms are expected to exclude intermediary buyers and scouts through strict compliance measures and restrictions.  

Analysts interpret the reform as part of the regulator’s response to local processors who have complained of not being able to secure enough beans for local production. Although the CCC put quotas on the amount of beans multinational companies can buy, the current cocoa shortage has fueled smuggling and expanded the influence of middlemen who bought scarce cocoa beans at premium prices. 

However, analysts have also warned the current restrictions could further exacerbate the current cocoa bean shortages. 

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