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Cocoa, the black gold of Côte d'Ivoire

With a production that borders on 50% on a global scale, the Ivory Coast has its edible “black gold”. Entering for ± 20% of the GDP, o% ± 6 million planters make this African state a reference in this sector very popular with the rest of the world, for ± 2 million tonnes of production.

A history of more than 150 years, so cocoa in Ivory Coast appeared via Ghana in 1870 and the first plantations 10 years later.

Imported at the beginning of the 19th century, in order to respond to the increase in consumption in the world and in Europe, several varieties and cocoa plants originating from West Africa and South America have been cultivated. To increase productivity and allow good integration, crosses have been made, thus making climate adaptation optimum.

The Amazon, cradle of cocoa

95% of cocoa production in Côte d'Ivoire is from Forastero, which allows a high yield, thanks to its high resistance to disease, but there is also a smaller amount of Criollo type cocoa, which is considered a superior quality cocoa due to its aroma and taste. Criollo cocoa is produced in limited quantities due to its susceptibility to disease and lower yield.

Forastero cocoa is native to Amazonia, South America, and is also grown in other tropical regions of the world. Forastero cocoa was first domesticated around 3000 years ago by the Mayan peoples and the Aztecs and covers all South American countries with Brazil, Peru and Colombia.

Its high yield and disease resistance make Forastero cocoa the most widely grown cocoa variety in the world, accounting for approximately 80% of global cocoa production.

Cocoa producers and buyers

Cargill is a leading buyer and exporter of cocoa beans in Côte d'Ivoire, the world's largest cocoa producer. The company has been operating in the country since 1998 and has offices in Abidjan and cocoa processing facilities in San Pedro.

Cargill works with thousands of smallholder cocoa farmers in Côte d'Ivoire, providing them with quality seeds, agronomic advice and technical assistance to improve their yield and production quality. The company also buys cocoa beans directly from growers and cooperatives, ensuring fair and stable prices for growers.

After the cocoa beans are differentiated, Cargill processes them at its processing facilities in San Pedro, where they are sorted, cleaned, roasted and transformed into semi-finished products such as cocoa mass and cocoa butter. These products are then exported to chocolate processing factories in Europe, the United States and Asia.

Cocoa producing and processing companies in Ivory Coast

Many companies operating in Côte d'Ivoire are references, in addition to Cargill, there are multinationals, such as the Swiss Bary Callebaut, Nestlé and Lindt & Sprüngli, the USA with Mars (USA turnover ± 45 billion $), and Mondelez International. French companies are represented by Valrhona, CémoiWeiss chocolate (1882) It should be noted that France imports ± 140 thousand tons, all countries combined.

Cocoa farmers and cocoa processing in Côte d'Ivoire

± 6 million cocoa farmers have an income that depends on several factors, the size of the plantation, the quality of production, variations in the price of cocoa on the markets and production costs.

The World Bank indicated an average annual income of a cocoa farmer in Côte d'Ivoire of around 950,000 CFA francs, or ± $1,650.Cocoa farmers in Côte d'Ivoire face challenges, low cocoa prices, disease and lack of access to finance and technology.

Cocoa processing companies for ± 20% of bean production for a turnover of ± 800 billion FCFA are present in Côte d'Ivoire. Thus we find in the front runners, Barry Callebaut with its subsidiary "La société africaine de cacao", Cargill cacao sarl (Abidjan, Daloa, and San Pedro), the French trader Touton with a processing plant in Abidjan.

The technological evolution of cocoa in the Ivory Coast

Côte d'Ivoire has made progress in technological innovation, so initiatives are being taken to improve the productivity, quality and sustainability of cocoa production. The use of camera-equipped drones for plantation mapping provides accurate data on plantation size, tree density and crop health.

This information can help farmers optimize their crop management and improve their yield. Quality management vihas NIR scanners to analyze the quality of cocoa beans before processing, a computerized tracking and tracing system, which can trace cocoa beans from production to processing, and guarantee quality, sustainability and traceability of the supply chain.

Sustainable agricultural practices, thus farmers adopt agroforestry, this allows the improvement of biodiversity, better soil health, and aims to reduce deforestation. 

Encouraging initiatives for the cocoa industry in Côte d'Ivoire, as they can help improve the productivity, quality and sustainability of Côte d'Ivoire's "black gold".

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