Due to weak economic conditions, the authorities in the Ivory Coast have put a temporary ban on the exportation of cocoa to the world market.
Cocoa production and exports from the Ivory Coast plunged during the 2015-2016 season, compared to the 2014-2015 period.
The Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire) leads the world in the production and export of the cocoa beans used in the manufacturing of chocolate, as of 2012, supplying 33% of cocoa produced in the world.
West Africa collectively supplies two thirds of the world’s cocoa crop, with Ivory Coast the leading production at 1.65 million tons, and nearby Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon and Togo producing additional 1.55 million tons. Ivory Coast overtook Ghana as the world’s leading producer of cocoa beans in 1978.
The primary non-African competitor of Ivory Coast is Indonesia, which went from having almost nonexistent domestic cocoa industry in the 1970s to becoming one of the largest producers in the market by the early 2000s. Per the UN-FAO, Indonesia overtook Ghana and became the second-largest producer worldwide in 2006.
The World Cocoa Foundation provides significantly lower figures for Indonesia, but concurs that it is the largest producer of cocoa beans outside West Africa. Large chocolate producers such as Cadbury, Hershey’s, and Nestle buy Ivorian cocoa futures and options through Euronext whereby world prices are set.
Cocoa is a shade-loving tree native to the understory of rainforests, growing at low elevation in the foothills of the Andes, and in the great South American equatorial river basins the Amazon River Basin, and the Orinoco River Basin. The tree is a choice crop for areas of West Africa with low to slight elevations, good soils, and the constant humidity of the tropics.
The crop is grown in Ivory Coast and neighboring Liberia mostly by smallholder farmers planting on 1-3 hectares.
The pods containing the beans are harvested when a sufficient number are ripe, opened to separate the seeds and pulp from the outer rind, and the seeds and pulp are usually allowed to ferment somewhere on the farm, before the seeds are dried in a central location.
The dried seeds are purchased by a traitant or buyer who travels among villages in an area to weigh, purchase and collect the crop.
The traitant then takes the crop to a short-holding warehouse in a major town or city where the major exporters purchase the seeds and arrange for its export from Ivory Coast.
The entire process requires the labored contribution of a variety of workers, from the farmer who owns the fields, to his laborers.
Ivory Coast and other West African cocoa producing nations have come under severe criticisms in the west for using child slave labor to produce the cocoa purchased by Western chocolate companies. The bulk of the criticism has been directed towards practices in Ivory Coast.
The Ivorian information minister said two days ago that the 12.6% decrease in the country’s cocoa’s supply is due to climate change and drought.
“Production decreased to 1.565 million tons for the 2015-2016 season as compared to the 1.791 million tons in the 2014-2015 campaign,” Bruno Kone said.
The Ivorian administration revealed that the cocoa buying price for the next season beginning October 1 will increase by 10% which per the minister, is “good news for peasant farmers whose incomes will continue to grow”.
More than a quarter of Ivorian’s (around six million people) are involved in growing cocoa beans, which are extremely important to the country and its people. But these people that produce the cocoa from which chocolate is made do not know how chocolate taste or what it is until recently.