The move is seen as part of a response to plans by the European Union to an imminent import ban of commodities and products linked to deforestation and human rights abuses.
Cote d’Ivoire remains the world's largest cocoa grower with more than 2 million tonnes of beans produced per year, accounting for 45% of world production. Cocoa is estimated to generate 40% of the country’s export earnings and accounts for 15% of its national GDP.
But it has been criticised over the years for its sustainability record on deforestation and the use of child labourers on farms.
The new card system, which will start operating at the start of the next cocoa season at the beginning of October, will enable the CCC to reject beans grown illegally and trace them from farms to the ports of Abidjan and San Pedro.
The CCC has previously said it is tackling the issue of child labour and acknowledged that farming is encroaching on forests.
Reuters reported that, in 2019, the CCC commissioned a study to establish the number of cocoa farmers and where they operate. It registered 995,000 farmers and found that 15% of farms were in protected forest areas.
Earlier this month, CN reported on a study that claimed over 55% of cocoa exports from Côte d’Ivoire are ‘untraceable’ and cannot be traced back to the first buyer, let alone the farm, due to incomplete records between the cocoa production and its transportation.
The CCC has already distributed 100,000 cards since a pilot project in April last year. It aims to distribute around 50,000 cards per month until the end of the current season.
"The European Union voted a new law that will be implemented soon, and this pushes us to develop a traceability and certification system," CCC head Yves Brahima Kone told cocoa farmers collecting their cards in the northern city of Agboville.
The cards are also integrated with an electronic payment and wallet system that will allow farmers to get the guaranteed farmgate price of 900 CFA francs ($1.52) per kg of beans, which many buyers do not respect.
"It is the first time I have a bank card that I can use to withdraw cash. I have never had a bank account and I am happy because now I can sell my cocoa for the guaranteed price," Jean Dominique Boua, who farms outside Agboville, told local media.