Interview: Sangafowa Coulibaly
What specific measures are needed to increase processing rates for agricultural commodities?
SANGAFOWA COULIBALY: At the primary stage, the processing rate for cocoa is 35%, but generally for other products it is much lower. The objective of reforms is to reach a 50% rate by 2015 for cocoa. For other agricultural products, the rate is generally below 20%, with most crops exported in raw form, though it varies. Our strategy, as outlined in the National Agricultural Investment Programme, is to encourage private-sector investment, and we have established a dialogue with the private sector to see how we can facilitate investment for them. Today, the private sector has pledged CFA1.6trn (€2.4bn), which represents over 60% of the programme’s costs. They have requested the government clarify land issues, build rural roads and provide irrigation infrastructure, and the government is currently pursuing financial and technical partners to secure financing for projects that will prepare the terrain for private investment. In 2013 the private sector will invest CFA233bn (€349.5m), and we are working with several companies to facilitate their investments, which all concern processing.
In what way has the decrease in world cocoa prices affected producers and exporters?
COULIBALY: The decrease in prices is temporary and linked to the global crisis in Europe and the US, which are the principal consumers. In absolute terms, projections clearly show that over 1m tonnes of cocoa beans will be needed to satisfy global demand, so there is actually a global structural supply deficit. This demonstrates that there will not be a structural decrease in prices; on the contrary, prices will rise in line with increasing demand from growing middle classes in emerging markets. Also, in our reforms we have focused on productivity, going from 400-500 kg to 2 tonnes per ha by using new varieties and grafting techniques. Furthermore, producers are now guaranteed to receive at least 60% of the price and the government lowered its share from 22% to 18%, explaining the rise for other players.
How can cotton contribute to food security?
COULIBALY: The government is committed to supporting cotton as it helps in the fight against poverty in the country’s north and because it is associated with food crops. This is why the government provided around CFA80bn (€120m) in subsidies over seven difficult years during the crisis. The sector is now in good standing as international prices have ticked upwards and we have cleaned up finances with the help of the EU.
We are working on cotton genetics, as the crop was depleted during the crisis, with financing from technical and financial partners. Production had decreased to 150,000 tonnes of cotton grain but today has reached 360,000 tonnes, with the goal being to attain 600,000 tonnes by 2015, which corresponds to the installed capacity of our country’s cotton industry.
How can sustainable palm and rubber investments be encouraged further, amid lower prices?
COULIBALY: Our agricultural development takes the environment into account. We are working on the Agricultural Orientation Law to create a framework for the next decade so that the sector remains sustainable. We encourage farmers to invest in rubber in a way that reinforces food crops, meaning that revenue from rubber should contribute to edible crops. Rubber plantations in the east have reforested and improved the climate in the area, enabling renewed cocoa growth. Regarding palm oil, Côte d’Ivoire’s situation is far from that of Indonesia, where vast swathes of forest have been stripped, as village plantations with their associated food crops tend to gravitate around industrial plantations.
What plans are under way for the cashew sector?
COULIBALY: This is high on our agenda, and we are happy to be the world’s second producer in absolute terms. However, expansion occurred haphazardly as cashew trees were originally planted to counter deforestation, so no productivity standards were taken into account. We are working on production and processing reform.
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