To ease your site search, article categories are at bottom of page.

September 19, 2010

Ivory Coast's youth shun cocoa farming

by Loucoumane Coulibaly

As Ivory Coast's cocoa farmers grow old, a younger generation is increasingly turning away from this labour intensive work, endangering future output in a nation that supplies a third of the world's cocoa.

Poor training and a lack of government support to deal with diseases are taking the shine off the crop that built what was once West Africa's star economy, farmers and analysts say. Young people are turning to rubber farming or city jobs instead.

Euphrasie Kouame, an Ivorian agricultural scientist, estimates that 40 percent of cocoa farmers are older than 50years -- that's in a country where average life expectancy is 57 years, according to the World Bank.

"At least 40 percent of their children have no interest intaking over the family cocoa growing activities," she said, basing her estimates on recent surveys.

The cocoa industry in the world's top grower is in decline.The latest arrivals to ports look likely to just scrape past last season's 1.22 million tonnes, itself the worst in five years, by the season's close at the end of the month. Up to 100,000 tonnes of that is estimated to be smuggled infrom neighbouring Ghana. Meanwhile, competitors in less disarray like Ghana and Indonesia are looking to capitalise on 32-year price highs.

"The farmers in Ivory Coast have become the weakest link in the commercial chain," Kouame said. "If nothing is done, Ivory Coast will lose its place as the top global producer --output could fall well below a million tonnes."

Political turmoil has delayed reforms to the cocoa sector.Elections scheduled for Oct. 31 are five years overdue but seemmore likely to go ahead than ever, after President LaurentGbagbo validated the final voter list last week.

Gbagbo has pledged to double production in the next 10years, but has said little about how this could be achieved. Proposals include returning to a state price stabilisationsystem. The World Bank has urged Ivory Coast to cut taxes on farmers, which it says are amongst the world's highest, creating huge disincentives to do the hard work of growing it.

Anini Kouakou, 59, has grown cocoa on the green easternNiable region, near the Ghana border, his whole working life. His six children have no desire to follow in his footsteps. Some of them chose instead to launch themselves as petty traders in a nearby town. Others are looking for jobs.

"The young today have no real interest in cultivatingcocoa," he said. "They go to town to look for work or trade.Growing cocoa is hard work and doesn't bring instant cash."

Kouakou said the problem with cocoa was that the money only comes in during periods of intensive harvesting, which last only a few months, after which it dries up. When farmers are members of cooperatives, lean periods are even worse. The cooperatives take the cocoa and sell it but they can take weeks to get cash back.

"The young want money every month and they get that growing rubber. Lots of them are leaving cocoa for this," he said.

Stephane Mea, 25, whose father planted cocoa and tried to encourage his son to do the same, joined the exodus.

"My Dad grew cocoa. Me, I do trade in town. It's better money and more regular, with less hassle than cocoa," he said.

For Francois Badiel, a cooperative manager in the western town of Gagnoa, the trend poses a medium to long term threat.

"There are hardly any young planting cocoa, which they think tiring and unrewarding. Who is going to continue it?"

Fox Business News

Article Categories

AGRA agribusiness agrochemicals agroforestry aid Algeria aloe vera Angola aquaculture banana barley beans beef bees Benin biodiesel biodiversity biof biofuel biosafety biotechnology Botswana Brazil Burkina Faso Burundi CAADP Cameroon capacity building cashew cassava cattle Central African Republic cereals certification CGIAR Chad China CIMMYT climate change cocoa coffee COMESA commercial farming Congo Republic conservation agriculture cotton cow pea dairy desertification development disease diversification DRCongo drought ECOWAS Egypt Equatorial Guinea Ethiopia EU EUREPGAP events/meetings expo exports fa fair trade FAO fertilizer finance fisheries floods flowers food security fruit Gabon Gambia gender issues Ghana GM crops grain green revolution groundnuts Guinea Bissau Guinea Conakry HIV/AIDS honey hoodia horticulture hydroponics ICIPE ICRAF ICRISAT IFAD IITA imports India infrastructure innovation inputs investment irrigation Ivory Coast jatropha kenaf keny Kenya khat land deals land management land reform Lesotho Liberia Libya livestock macadamia Madagascar maiz maize Malawi Mali mango marijuana markets Mauritania Mauritius mechanization millet Morocco Mozambique mushroom Namibia NEPAD Niger Nigeria organic agriculture palm oil pastoralism pea pest control pesticides pineapple plantain policy issues potato poultry processing productivity Project pyrethrum rai rain reforestation research rice rivers rubber Rwanda SADC Sao Tome and Principe seed seeds Senegal sesame Seychelles shea butter Sierra Leone sisal soil erosion soil fertility Somalia sorghum South Africa South Sudan Southern Africa spices standards subsidies Sudan sugar sugar cane sustainable farming Swaziland sweet potato Tanzania tariffs tea tef tobacco Togo tomato trade training Tunisia Uganda UNCTAD urban farming value addition value-addition vanilla vegetables water management weeds West Africa wheat World Bank WTO yam Zambia Zanzibar zero tillage Zimbabwe

  © 2007 Africa News Network design by

Back to TOP