A farmer carries cocoa pods at a farm in Agboville, Ivory Coast. Picture: REUTERS
A farmer carries cocoa pods at a farm in Agboville, Ivory Coast. Picture: REUTERS

Abidjan — Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara will propose to his counterpart in Ghana that the two neighbouring countries and world’s biggest cocoa producers narrow a gap in producer prices to discourage smuggling of beans, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Ouattara would call Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo on Thursday before Ivory Coast announced a new minimum price for cocoa purchases on October 1, said the person, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorised to speak about the matter. Ivory Coast is proposing payments of 750 CFA francs ($1.31) a kilogram for its farmers for the bigger of the two annual harvests that starts next month, compared with 1,100 francs for the previous main crop, said the person.

Ghana has paid farmers the equivalent of $1,725/metric tonne since October last year, while Ivory Coast reduced the minimum price for producers to the equivalent of $1,223/ton in April.

Ouattara held regular talks with his Ghanaian counterpart, particularly before cocoa price announcements were made, Ivory Coast government spokesman Bruno Kone said in response to a request for comment, declining to elaborate further. Ghanaian Minister of Information Mustapha Hamid did not answer calls seeking comment.

The two West African nations, which account for more than 60% of global cocoa production, are battling prices that have slumped by almost a third in the past year, hurting their economies. While Ivory Coast is adjusting farmer payments in line with lower prices, Ghana chose to absorb the volatility by keeping payments unchanged, raising the risk of cocoa smuggling from its neighbour.

Ghana’s cocoa regulator said the nation’s security forces would clamp down on smuggling, even though it had not received any official complaints.


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