Advertisements for fertilizer and the crocodile machete along the road. Beans drying on the ground on black tarpaulins in the villages. And the vegetation, cocoa trees, rubber trees, cheese trees and teak trees, among others, omnipresent. Such is the landscape in the Nawa, the main cocoa region of Côte d’Ivoire, located 380 kilometers to the northwest from Abidjan. At the end of October, in the midst of the brown gold marketing campaign, trucks full of beans are flocking to the cooperatives.
Côte d’Ivoire-Ghana: five questions to understand the battle over cocoa
While the region contributes to making Côte d’Ivoire the world’s leading cocoa producer, with more than 2 million beans per year, it also illustrates the double battle in which the country is engaged to make its sector more sustainable: the fight against deforestation and against child labour. Identified for a long time, these challenges have been taken head on in recent years, with efforts having redoubled since 2018 and the launch of an initiative with Ghana, the world’s second largest producer of beans, to obtain better remuneration for cocoa farmers, the weak link in the global chocolate chain.
One third of production from classified forests
Both on deforestation and on child labor, the task is considerable. With the boom in cocoa farming, Côte d’Ivoire has lost nearly 90% of its forests, which have fallen from 16 million hectares in the 1960s to less than 3 million today. Despite ongoing reforms, experts in the sector estimate that a third of the beans marketed still come from the country’s 234 classified forests – between 10 and 15% according to the Coffee-Cocoa Council (CCC), the regulator from sector.
Ivory Coast: the new cocoa campaign is not “in the bag”