Exporters say, Côte d’Ivoire, the world’s largest cocoa producers faces 100,000 tonnes of cocoa being piled-up due to the global pandemic and a drop in demand. Farmers are struggling and are getting less than the guaranteed farmgate price.
Last week, we reported the country receiving good weather, meaning good soil for a bigger mid-crop, but farmers are finding it hard to sell.
The exporters did not say which of their international buyers had asked to postpone shipments, but the unwanted stockpile adds to a growing store of beans at ports after chocolate makers and buyers in Europe and the United States asked that deliveries scheduled for October-December be postponed to January-March.
Chocolate makers such as Mars Inc, Hershey and Barry Callebaut purchase Ivorian cocoa.
The estimated 100,000 tonnes of beans stuck at farms and cooperatives amounts to roughly one-third of Ivory Coast’s monthly output at this time of year.
A source at the Coffee and Cocoa Council (CCC) told Reuters, with fewer shipments leaving the West African nation, CCC, the regulator, has suspended a system registering cooperatives’ beans to slow flows from the countryside.
A director of an international export company based in Abidjan said,
It’s a vicious cycle. We don’t have enough room to continue buying cocoa and storing it. If we resumed exports to Europe and the U.S. right now, there would be room here.
Farmers are desperate for money to sustain a living and this delay is hindering their livelihoods. The guaranteed farmgate price of 1,000 CFA francs ($1.82) per kg is not being met. They have made sales for as little as 900 to 950 CFA francs per kilogram.
Reuters reported, in Soubré, the South-Western city of Cote d’Ivoire where the heart of the cocoa belt is, a cooperative in the village of Gnipi 2 was sitting on 250 tonnes of beans and another cooperative there had 200 tonnes stockpiled, and more heaped in trucks on the side of the road.
With flows to the coast delayed and being held up, the cooperatives lack money and space to buy more beans from farmers.
Farmers say they haven’t been paid since December and can’t even afford their children’s schooling.