Ivory Coast to create 2.4 mln agriculture jobs by end of 2016
ABIDJAN, Sept 20
ABIDJAN, Sept 20 (Reuters) - Ivory Coast, the world's top cocoa grower, aims to create 2.4 million new jobs by the end of 2016 though a programme of heavy investments in agriculture, a senior government official said.
Once the motor for economic growth in West Africa, Ivory Coast is recovering from a decade-long political crisis that split the country between a rebel-held north and government controlled south and led to economic stagnation.
The economy is growing once again now - expanding by 9.8 percent in 2012 - but unemployment, especially among the young, remains high and many in the country of over 20 million complain that the revival has not trickled down to ordinary Ivorians.
Government plans to invest more than 2 trillion CFA francs ($4 billion) to improve and diversify the agriculture sector hold the key to job creation, Nouhoun Coulibaly, head of project planning at the ministry of agriculture, said on Friday.
"The national agricultural programme will allow for the creation of 2.4 million jobs in the agriculture sector," he said.
"Since 2012 we've spent 744 billion CFA francs in agriculture, water and forest, animal production and fishery projects," he added.
Ivory Coast's economy has long relied on agricultural exports for the vast majority of government revenues. Aside from cocoa, it is Africa's leading producer of natural rubber as well as a major exporter of palm oil products.
Coulibaly said the government had launched around 20 projects in 2012, with another 20 to be started in the areas of rice, vegetable and rubber production by the end of this year. ($1 = 485.5520 CFA francs) (Reporting By Loucoumane Coulibaly; Editing by Joe Bavier, Ron Askew)
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