News Column

High Cocoa Prices Prompt Ivorian Farmers to Increase Investment

July 1, 2014

Crusoe Osagie

High price of cocoa is encouraging Ivorian farmers to increase their spending on fertilisers and pesticides after a long interval, industry sources have said.

This trend suggests that crop yields from the world's largest grower may rise.

Concerns over the looming supply deficit and growing demand for chocolate pushed world cocoa prices near a three-year high last Friday.

Farmers are expecting higher prices next season when a global supply shortfall is forecast and are investing even more in plantation upkeep.

Most plantations in Ivory Coast date from the 1980s and 1990s and require constant husbandry and investment to improve productivity, industry experts say.

Diseases such as swollen shoot and black pod as well as insect infestations, have hit crop yields in recent years.

"For a few years, I have not looked after my plantation properly because of lack of money. But this year I've bought more insecticide and fungicide," said Adama Konate, who farms six hectares of cocoa in Soubre, adding: "I want to increase production and earn some more money."

Growers complain that fertiliser prices have risen by 30 per cent since 2010, while insecticides and fungicide prices have climbed by 25 per cent over the same period.

Two years ago, Ivory Coast abandoned a decade of sector liberalisation and began forward selling its crop in order to guarantee farmers at least 60 per cent of the international price.

That has helped to increase returns to growers and boost production.

The International Cocoa Organisation has forecast that Ivory Coast's 2013/14 cocoa crop, which runs from October to September, will hit a record 1.7 million tonnes.

The country produced 1.415 million tonnes in its 2012/13 crop.

According to a study from Armajaro Research, just 11 per cent of Ivorian farmers applied fertilisers to their plantations in 2012. But that rose to 20 per cent in 2014.

The use of pesticides jumped from 50 per cent to 80 per cent during the same period.

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Source: AllAfrica

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