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Monday, 24 September, 2001, 16:21 GMT 17:21 UK
Ivory Coast protects cocoa farmers
Cocoa pods
Cocoa is principally used for making chocolate
Ivory Coast has adopted new proposals to ensure a minimum price for cocoa farmers.

The West African country's commodity marketing body has voted in a new export system which includes quotas for cocoa in order to protect against over-supply.

At a meeting in the political capital Yamoussoukro, the Coffee and Cocoa Bourse (BCC) agreed the principal of minimum prices for farmers for the coming season.

The West African country is the world's largest cocoa producer - accounting for 40% of world supply.

It is also Africa's largest coffee producer.

Income guaranteed

Farmers have welcomed the decision to guarantee them minimum revenues for their cocoa following plummeting world prices for the country's main export.

Henri Amouzou, head of the National Association of Coffee-Cocoa Producers, said the move showed President Laurent Gbagbo's wish "to give farmers back their dignity".

Cocoa prices were previously stabilised by a complex system in which most of the Ivory Coast crop was sold before it was actually harvested.

But that system was abandoned in 1999 to fulfil conditions for a loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank.

The current BCC was created in July, with the express intention of guaranteeing farmers a price for their coffee.

Farmers hold two-thirds of the body's seats, with the remainder going to exporters.

Quotas opposed

But there is also concern that a quota system could be open to abuse and big exporters have opposed it.

The economy of Ivory Coast relies heavily on the country's exports of agricultural products.

Because of its reliance on earnings from cocoa, coffee and palm oil, vast areas of tropical rainforest have been devastated for the creation of commodity plantations.

See also:

26 Feb 01 | Business
Cocoa price surge concerns
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