Ivory Coast cocoa port deliveries unhindered by strike

ABIDJAN (Reuters) - Cocoa deliveries at ports in Ivory Coast in the past two days exceeded last week’s total, data showed on Wednesday, despite a strike that is threatening to block bean deliveries and exports.

FILE PHOTO: A man prepares cocoa beans for sale in Daloa, which produces a quarter of Ivory Coast's national cocoa output, April 24, 2012. REUTERS/Thierry Gouegnon

Data from the Ivory Coast Cocoa and Coffee Council regulator (CCC) and exporters, showed that 38,000 tonnes of beans were delivered to the ports of Abidjan and San Pedro on Monday and Tuesday, compared with 25,000 tonnes last week.

The National Association of Ivorian Producers (ANAPROCI), representing about 600,000 members in the world’s top cocoa-producing country, is demanding payment of a 17 billion CFA francs ($29.8 million) premium promised by the government to help farmers to deal with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ivory Coast has about one million cocoa farmers, most of them farming small holdings of up to 5 hectares of cocoa.

A bumper harvest last season combined with a slump in consumption because of the pandemic led to a drop in farmers’ income as farmgate cocoa prices dropped.

Official farmgate cocoa prices have dropped by more than 17% this season compared with 2020/2021.

“We launched the strike yesterday to demand the 17 billion CFA Covid premium promised by the government through the CCC, and also to demand that a framework be put in place to regularly discuss problems that affect farmers,” ANAPROCI President Koffi Kanga said on Wednesday.

“If the government or the CCC does not listen to us, we will block the entire sector in the next few days. We are going to prevent cocoa from reaching the ports by all means.”

The CCC has said that the funding announced by the government are not yet available.

“Even if we receive these funds, it will be distributed in kind and rather than the cash demanded by the unions. The fund will be used to provide free farm inputs to farmers,” a CCC source said on Wednesday.

More than a dozen farmers told Reuters that the strike has had little impact so far, with most farmers focused on harvesting and drying their beans while buyers are still collecting beans from plantations.

Reporting by Ange Aboa and Loucoumane Coulibaly; Editing by Bate Felix and David Goodman