(Updates with comment from Coulibaly in second paragraph.)
Sept. 12 (Bloomberg) -- Ivory Coast, the world’s biggest cocoa producer, will ensure that farmers get a minimum price for their beans, said Agriculture Minister Mamadou Sangafowa Coulibaly.
“At least 50 percent of the price will go to the farmers,” he told reporters today in Abidjan, the commercial capital. The plan is among a set of cocoa-industry reforms aimed at curbing smuggling between Ivory Coast and neighboring Ghana, he said.
The West African nation also plans to increase processing of beans to as much as 50 percent of the harvest from about 35 percent currently, Coulibaly said. More details on changes will be announced at a later date, he said.
Ivory Coast is emerging from a nearly five-month post- election crisis that was sparked when former leader Laurent Gbagbo refused to cede power to Alassane Ouattara. Exports of cocoa and coffee were largely halted between January and April in a bid to starve Gbagbo of funds, a move that spurred smuggling to neighboring Ghana. The London-based International Cocoa Organization estimated in May the illegal trade reached about 100,000 metric tons.
Production in the 2010-11 season, which ends this month, is forecast at 1.2 million tons to 1.25 million tons after problems with aging trees curbed output, Finance Minister Charles Koffi Diby said in an interview in the Senegalese capital, Dakar, today.
“It’s from 2012 onward that we’re going to have a good, more interesting harvest,” Diby said.
In June, Ivory Coast said it would replant 120,000 hectares (296,500 acres) of aging cocoa trees, which have lower yields, over the next three years. Nestle SA said on June 28 it would distribute 600,000 high-yielding trees to farmers to improve quality and boost production.
--With assistance from Baudelaire Mieu in Abidjan. Editors: Emily Bowers, Stuart Wallace.
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