ABIDJAN–– The world’s largest producer of cocoa said it will reduce out.  Ivory Coast’s Coffee and Cocoa Council (CCC) over the weekend announced that the country will suspend programs for the 2018-19 season that boost cocoa and coffee output.

The announcement comes as the West Africa nation aims to reduce production in the face of global oversupply.

Sources say the marketing board seeks to pause the distribution of higher-grade seeds and plants by chocolate makers, including Mars and Nestle, that develop hybrid species that they pass on to farmers to increase yields.

In a statement, the Ivory Coast’s CCC said, “Given the increase in global cocoa supply and falling prices since 2016/17, the CCC has decided to carry out a census of the coffee and cocoa orchards.”

“Pending the finalization of this census, we inform you of our decision to temporarily suspend any distribution of improved plant material, seeds, cuttings, etc., from the 18/19 season.”

When the regulatory body emphasized the need for such reduction, it did not say when the census would begin. Industry analysts say output in the Ivory Coast has risen from 1.6 million tons 10 years ago to 2 million tons in the 2016-17 season because of higher yields, but global demand has failed to meet supply.

The CCC envisages production for the 2017-18 season to slip to 1.9 million tons, partly because of bad weather.

Officials at the CCC said the entity wants to try to reduce output to between 1.7 million tons and 1.8 million tons over the next two years.  If this happens, it will affect exporters and chocolate makers that also include Ferrero, Cargill, Olam, Cemoi and Cocoa Barry.

One CCC official said, “Our goal is to control our production because these last 10 years, it is these programs initiated by chocolatiers … that increased our production from 1.6 million to 2 million (tons).”