Cocoa strike disrupts supply

By Catherine Boal

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Côte d'ivoire

Cote d'Ivoire cocoa growers have downed tools over pay
disagreements, beginning a strike which could dramatically cut
supplies to chocolate manufacturers.

The strike started this week with farmers in the Anaproci trade union preventing cocoa shipments from reaching exporters warehouses.

Disruption in the supply of cocoa is an issue that continues to dog the industry with sales vulnerable to losses caused by civil war, disease and labour concerns.

Anaproci represents 80 per cent of the Cote d'Ivoire's cocoa farmers who produce around 1.3m tonnes of the bean annually.

According to Reuters, the organisation called for the strike to demand higher payments and greater financial support for growing co-operatives after low harvest season prices were set last week.

Now farmers have begun burning beans and blocking roads while previously secured shipments are being kept under police guard.

The recent unrest follows a warning this week that the swollen shoot virus has been decimating cocoa trees in the region, further lowering supplies.

Earlier this year, the International Cocoa Organisation (ICCO) held a conference in Italy to discuss sustainable production.

The complex issue is evident from the ground up, with farmers receiving low prices which force them to turn to more profitable crops.

African cocoa producing countries such as Cote d'Ivoire, account for around 80 per cent of the bean's global exports and the worldwide chocolate market is worth $75 billion (€58.5bn) annually.

But the profitability of the market does not trickle down to producers at the initial stage of production who occupy a weak bargaining position due to their reliance on the commodity.

According to an ICCO report: "Ivory Coast's mostly illiterate farmers are ill equipped to negotiate with hard bargaining upcountry commodity buyers. Most of Ivory Coast's 3m small scale farmers, who produce most of the crop, are poorly organised."

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