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April 26, 2011

Ivory Coast cocoa harvest threatened

by Debarati Roy

Cocoa production in Ivory Coast, the world’s biggest grower, may continue to be disrupted because farmers fled plantations during the violence that followed a disputed presidential election, according to Exclusive Analysis.

Unrest is likely to continue in the cocoa-producing southwest, as well as the main port and commercial center of Abidjan and the capital Yamoussoukro, even after the capture of the country’s former president, Laurent Gbagbo, said Robert Besseling, a senior Africa forecaster at the London-based specialist intelligence company.

“The production of cocoa has been affected because of widespread fighting and displacement of almost 1 million people,” Besseling said. “Farms have been neglected, and we could continue to see religious and ethnic violence in some of the regions.”

Alassane Ouattara, the internationally recognized winner of the November election, has been battling Gbagbo for control of the West African nation.

Ouattara faces significant risks of a coup for the next year from groups that have refused to recognize him as the legitimate president, Besseling said.

Cocoa growers in Ivory Coast are just beginning to gather the mid-crop, the smaller of two annual harvests, according to Macquarie Group Ltd. in London.


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