ABIDJAN, June 13 A drive by Ivory Coast
authorities to reclaim land in national parks on which about
2,000 farmers have planted crops could hurt output of cocoa in
the world's top producing nation, exporters said.
Some 100 farmers were forcefully removed from plantations
last week in the cocoa-producing region of Sassandra in the
south of the country after the government said it planned to
reconstitute the national parks and forests.
About 50 percent Ivory Coast's 231 forest reserves covering
about 4.2 million hectares have been illegally occupied by
farmers. The occupations accelerated during a decade-long period
of violent political unrest that ended with a civil war in 2011.
Exporters said several high-yield plantations had been
created in the forests and the government's decision to destroy
them would be a serious problem for cocoa production.
"From next season, we'll start seeing the initial
consequences of this decision," a director of a cocoa export
firm in Abidjan, who asked not to be identified, said on
He said the impact would be felt especially in the region of
San Pedro, Soubre and Sassandra because there were about 90,000
hectares of reserved forest between Sassandra and Soubre.
"The farmers are being chased out and production from that
zone could be lost," he said, without giving an estimate of lost
Long-standing disputes over land tenure, shortages and
ownership have been at the centre of some violent disputes in
French-speaking west Africa's biggest economy.
President Alassane Ouattara's government has promised land
reforms, but has said it would not allow illegal land
"The government has carried out investigation and has taken
steps to ensure that all those illegally occupying these forests
should be removed," said Ivory Coast's government spokesman
(Reporting by Ange Aboa; Writing by Bate Felix; Editing by