VENTURES AFRICA – Cocoa production in the Ivory Coast is expected to drop by 13 percent this season due to decreased investment, fuelling concerns that a global cocoa deficit will ensue, and prompt a hike in cocoa prices.
A senior official at the country’s Coffee and Cocoa Council told Reuters that cocoa output expectations have been dropped for the October 2012-September 2013 season, with the Ivory Coast’s projected output now weighing in at 1.289 million tonnes – a 13 percent decrease on last season’s production, when 1.486 million tonnes of cocoa was produced.
According to the official interviewed, investors have been deterred from the industry due to “ageing trees and a lack of maintenance”.
There has also been on-going dissatisfaction on the part of farmers over the recent years, as growers blame a lack of government support and political turmoil for the ageing plantations. With cocoa bearing particularly low farmgate prices, and the government thus-far having failed to provide support to the growers, they have been unable to plant new trees to freshen the plantations.
Furthermore, the country in 2011 saw a civil war take place during which particular ethnic tensions and violence occurred in the western cocoa growing provinces of the Ivory Coast, disturbing cocoa production and leading to crop maintenance failures.
With investors now shying away from the industry, the government has recently implemented reform initiatives, which have hiked farmgate prices and boosted farmers’ incomes – however, these reforms are obviously not being felt in the output achieved in the current season.
In addition, the Ivory Coast has also been affected by unusually bad weather that has occurred in the West Africa region over the past year, with agricultural endeavours across the whole region having been disturbed by particularly strong rains and other weather impacts which has led to crops being destroyed or damaged.