February 7, 2020 / 3:58 PM / 21 days ago

Smuggling pushes Ivory Coast cashew output down 17% in 2019

ABIDJAN, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Production of cashew in Ivory Coast, one of the world’s top producers, fell 17% to 634,641 tonnes in 2019 after as much as 200,000 tonnes was smuggled out of the country, the head of the state cotton and cashew council said on Friday.

Last year, the government lowered the guaranteed minimum price paid to farmers for their cashews to 375 CFA francs ($0.63) per kg from 500, while the farmgate price in neighbouring Ghana remained higher.

The cashew council estimates between 150,000 and 200,000 tonnes of cashews, worth at least 17 billion CFA francs in taxes, was smuggled out of the country, mostly to Ghana.

The council’s director, Adama Coulibaly, said efforts would be made to clamp down on black market cashew flows.

“We think we can reach output of 800,000 tonnes in 2020, if we are successful in closing the borders,” Coulibaly told reporters.

The cashew marketing season in Ivory Coast opened officially on Feb. 6 and will close in late December. The government has set a new farmgate price of 400 CFA francs per kg, 25 CFA francs higher than last year.

“Farmers are not happy with this price. Cashew farming is tough,” said Calister Kouame, who farms in the eastern region of Bondoukou. “There will be smuggling because the people from Ghana are offering around 600 francs per kg.” ($1 = 594.2500 CFA francs) (Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Editing by Juliette Jabkhiro and Edmund Blair)

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