Ivory Coast seizes 100 tons of cocoa at the border with Guinea

By Thomson Reuters Feb 16, 2024 | 9:56 AM

ABIDJAN (Reuters) – Ivory Coast’s Coffee and Cocoa Council (CCC) has helped the national police to seize three trucks loaded with 1,500 bags of cocoa beans on the border with Guinea, the regulator’s managing director said on Friday.

Low farmgate prices compared with neighbouring countries have made the West African nation, the world’s top producer of the main ingredient in chocolate, a target for smugglers from neighbouring Liberia and Guinea where beans fetch higher prices.

A kilogram of cocoa currently costs between 1,600 CFA francs and 1,700 CFA francs ($2.63-$2.80) in Guinea and Liberia due to the rise in global prices, according to cooperatives and buyers based in Ivory Coast’s western region, on the border with those countries.

That compares with 1,000 CFA francs a kilogram in Ivory Coast, where the price is fixed and guaranteed throughout the year.

Global cocoa prices have hit record highs in recent months amid worries about a bean deficit this season and with concerns growing for the next. In the cocoa growing regions, the concern over shortages has fuelled a scramble for beans and smuggling.

The CCC regulator said collaboration with security forces resulted in last week’s seizure of 100 tons of cocoa.

It reported the trucks to the police, who stopped them in the town of Sipilou, 4 km (2.5 miles) from Guinea.

“We have made a firm commitment to reduce cocoa smuggling to neighbouring countries this year, and we are determined to succeed in this mission,” CCC CEO Yves Brahima Kone told Reuters.

Ivory Coast and neighbouring Ghana, the world’s second biggest producer, have said smuggling hampers their effort to meet their yearly production target.

In October, Kone promised to tackle the issue.

“This year, despite the high price in both countries compared to Ivory Coast, there is less leakage… People are really finding it hard to get cocoa out of Ivory Coast,” said Abel Gbale, a cocoa buyer in Danane, the country’s last major town before the borders with Liberia and Guinea.

Amadou Konate, a cocoa buyer based in Man, the main city in western Ivory Coast, said cocoa producers earn nothing from smuggling and the middlemen pocket all the money.

($1 = 607.2500 CFA francs)

(Reporting by Ange Aboa; Writing by Anait Miridzhanian; Editing by Bate Felix and Frances Kerry)