Cocoa Beans and Pods

World’s cocoa giant seeks flexibility on EU’s sustainability regulation

*Ivory Coast’s industry regulator says measures may threaten the country’s exports as cocoa farmers face challenges on protected forests, poverty

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

Though legislation is planned for introduction later this year, Ivory Coast, world’s top cocoa producer, has appealed to the European Union (EU) for flexibility as the country prepares to comply with the bloc’s proposed sustainability legislation, which could threaten exports of the key chocolate ingredient.

The EU measures, set to be activated later 2021, aim to protect forests, curb child labour and end farmer poverty, agency report said.

Yves Kone, Managing Director of Le Conseil du Cafe-Cacao, Ivory Coast’s Cocoa Regulator, said that the bloc “needs to be flexible in its enforcement.”

It was gathered that the 27-nation EU buys almost 70 percent of Ivory Coast’s cocoa. Thus, quick compliance with such broad legislation may pose challenges for the West African nation in selling its beans, according to the regulator.

Kone in an interview in the economic capital, Abidjan, said: “It will be a social issue for us to demand 15% of our farmers, who are in protected forests, to suddenly stop farming there.

“If we take the necessary steps, in principle, we could plant and harvest again in three or four years, but it could take as long as five years to get everyone out.”

Deforestation has long been a pressing issue in supply chains, but Ivory Coast is showing signs of progress after losing more than 80% of its forest cover since the 1960s. It now seeks to expand forest area to 20% of its territory by 2030.

On the issue of farmer poverty, the regulator is reportedly intensifying efforts at curbing production to two million tonnes in an effort at increasing produce prices.

Farmer poverty remains a challenge, and excess supply of cocoa in the market could exacerbate this situation.

According to Ivory Coast’s Cocoa Regulator, if farmers continue to plant, they’re working against themselves.

The so-called living income differential, a $400-per-tonne premium to the futures price, was introduced October 1, 2020, to guarantee farmer income.

Nonetheless, a drop in consumption caused by COVID-19 restrictions led to fewer bean sales in the country.

Likewise, the country is looking at new markets, and talks with buyers in Russia and Indonesia are underway, Kone said.

Even so, another record crop is expected for the 2020-21 season as arrivals to ports already stand at 2.07 million tonnes since the beginning of October, report added.

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