Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara announced on Thursday 1er October, a sharp rise in the price of cocoa paid to planters in Côte d’Ivoire, a gesture welcomed, but still considered insufficient for the country, the world’s largest producer of cocoa.
“We have decided to increase the price from 825 to 1,000 CFA francs”President Ouattara said in Yamoussoukro, the Ivorian political capital, at the opening of the National Cocoa and Chocolate Days, the annual event that kicks off the great harvest season, eliciting cheers from planters in attendance. With this amount of 1,000 CFA francs (1.52 euros) per kilo for the 2020-2021 harvest, the price of cocoa “Field edge”, paid to planters, set annually by the government, is up 21% from the previous season.
This increase corresponds to “Decent income differential” (DRD), the premium of 400 dollars per tonne (or 224 CFA francs per kilo) negotiated with the multinational cocoa and chocolate companies to improve the income of planters from this season, notes an expert in the sector. “It is necessary, but not sufficient for the planters to live decently”, he explains.
“It’s not enough to live”
“It’s just for a living. We would have wanted 1,200 CFA francs ”, one planter, N’Dri Kouao, commented to AFP. “It’s progress, but it’s not enough to live on. It would take 1,400 or 1,500 CFA francs to get by “, said the president of the National Agricultural Union for Progress in Ivory Coast, Moussa Koné.
This price of 1,000 CFA francs per kilo for Côte d’Ivoire, which produces more than 40% of the world’s cocoa, is equivalent to that announced last week by neighboring Ghana, which produces around 20%.
Since 2019, the two West African countries have been working together to try to raise the price of“Brown gold” in world markets. Together, they succeeded in imposing the DRD.
“Our common strategy now allows us to better defend the interests of our producers at the international level”, estimated President Ouattara. “If Ghana and Ivory Coast stay together, the DRD will still exist”said Joseph Boahen Aidoo, director of Cocobod, the state body that manages the cocoa sector in Ghana.
This amount of 1,000 CFA francs is a return to the price of 2015. It then reached 1,100 CFA francs in 2016, a record. Prices were then pulled down by the collapse in world prices.
The sharp rise in the price of cocoa also comes one month before the presidential election on October 31 in Côte d’Ivoire, which is taking place in a tense political context. Pre-election violence has already left some 15 dead in August, and the opposition called on the population to ” civil disobedience “.
The Yamoussoukro ceremony has almost been transformed into a political rally for candidate Ouattara, who is seeking a controversial third term. “Go everywhere in your villages to announce the good news of President Ouattara’s candidacy. The president has done a lot for you, in return you owe him a duty of gratitude ”Agriculture Minister Kobenan Kouassi Adjoumani said, eliciting mixed reactions from the audience, applause and laughter.
” You can count on me “Alassane Ouattara told the planters, assuring that the price of 1,000 CFA francs corresponded to support of 355 billion CFA francs (541 million euros) from the state in their favor.
The 2020-2021 cocoa harvest is expected to remain at the same high level as in 2019, at 2.1 million tonnes, according to forecasts by the International Cocoa Organization, if political unrest does not disrupt it. But global cocoa consumption has been affected by the coronavirus crisis, pulling market prices down. Cocoa is strategic in Côte d’Ivoire since it represents 10% to 15% of gross domestic product (GDP), nearly 40% of export earnings and supports 5 to 6 million people, i.e. one fifth of the total. population, according to the World Bank.