Côte d’Ivoire, the world’s largest cocoa exporter, announced Thursday that it will increase the guaranteed minimum price for farmers by 21% for the 2020-2021 growing season.
The announcement was made by President Alassane Ouattara at the start of an annual trade fair for the cocoa industry, the largest economic sector in the West African country.
“We have decided to increase the price from 825 to 1,000 CFA francs (from $ 1.48 to $ 1.79) per kilo,” he said to the applause of farmers in the capital Yamoussoukro.
The floor price is set once a year.
The announcement comes on the eve of a presidential election on October 31 in which Ouattara, 78, is seeking a controversial third term.
Critics accuse him of trying to get around the country’s two-term presidential limit by amending the constitution to reset its number to zero.
About 15 people were killed in clashes in August, and the opposition called on the population to carry out “civil disobedience”.
Côte d’Ivoire produces more than 40 percent of the world’s cocoa – the raw ingredient in chocolate, made from cocoa beans.
The 2020-21 harvest in Côte d’Ivoire is expected to be the same as in 2019-21, at around 2.1 million tonnes, according to the International Cocoa Organization (ICCO), an estimate that depends on political calm.
Cocoa accounts for between 10 and 15 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and nearly 40 percent of its export earnings, according to the World Bank.
At least five million people, or about a fifth of the population, depend on the sector for work.
– “Living Income” bonus –
The figure of 1,000 CFA francs per kilo is the same as that announced last week by neighboring Ghana, which accounts for about 20 percent of world cocoa production.
The two countries have been working together since last year in an attempt to support prices in the world market.
They introduced a “living income difference,” or LID – a premium aimed at fighting poverty among farmers – which is negotiated with the multinational cocoa and chocolate companies.
The new floor price of 1,000 francs takes into account the LID of $ 400 per tonne that has been agreed for the 2020-21 season.
“If Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire can stay together, (the) living income differential will be there forever,” said Joseph Boahen Aidoo, Managing Director of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), referring to Cote d ‘ Ivoire by its French name.
The increase to 1,000 francs brings Côte d’Ivoire’s guaranteed minimum price to 2015 levels, which then rose to 1,100 francs in 2016 before collapsing.
But some farmers told AFP the hike was still far short of what was needed.
“It’s just enough to survive. We would have preferred 1,200 francs,” said N’Dri Kouao.
“It’s progress, but it’s not enough to live. We need 1,400 or 1,500 francs to cope,” said Moussa Koné, president of the National Agricultural Union for Progress in Côte d’Ivoire ( SYNAP-CI).
– Pitch for the elections –
The ceremony in Yamoussoukro was practically a campaign event for Ouattara, whose candidacy for re-election is framed on demands for stability and economic recovery.
Ouattara told farmers that the increase would bring state support to the cocoa sector to 355 billion francs – $ 630 million – per year.
“You can count on me,” said the president.
His agriculture minister, Kobenan Kouassi Adjoumani, told the audience: “Go everywhere in your villages and announce the good news of President Ouattara’s candidacy … the president has done a lot for you, in return, you have a duty to recognize it. “
The remarks sparked a mixture of laughter and applause.
Ouattara won the 2010 elections, but the result was rejected by then-president Laurent Gbagbo.
A brief civil war erupted, killing around 3,000, before Ouattara ousted Gbagbo, who was then tried by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.
Gbagbo has since been acquitted and remains in Brussels pending the outcome of an appeal against this verdict.
But he remains a powerful figure back in a country still traumatized by the violence.
from / ri / dl