Ivory Coast, the world’s largest cocoa producer, received good levels of soil moisture from recent rain which helped the development of the cocoa crop last week, but farmers are struggling to sell. Due to the on-going global Covid pandemic, a drop in demand for chocolate has forced some of the farmers to sell their beans for less than the guaranteed farm gate price.
Ivory Coast is currently in its dry season, which runs from mid-November to March, but unexpected rain in recent weeks has meant soil was good to produce plenty of flowers and cherelles on the trees, which bode well for the April-to-September mid-crop. Kouassi Kouame, a farmer near Soubre, South West of Ivory Coast, said: “We will still have a lot of cocoa. But it’s the sales that’s the problem.”
The cocoa sector had a turbulent end to 2020, where cocoa producers and chocolate manufacturers went to war over avoiding the Living Income Difference (LID) premium, leading to sustainability programmes being suspended. Farmers are desperate for money to sustain a living but are saying they have made sales for as little as 900 to 950 CFA francs per kilogram, below the guaranteed farm gate price of 1,000 CFA francs. They don’t know the reasons why there are few buyers, and how much may be due to the holiday season.