Did you know that the Ivory Coast supplies more than a third of the world’s cocoa and its exports for the global chocolate market were worth around 2.5 billion dollars in 2010?
Yields of cocoa trees drop after 30 years and the last major cycle of planting was in the 1970s. Some new trees have been planted (with funding from large food companies), but they represent a small proportion of output.
However, revenues from cocoa production are threatened by regular blights such as black pod disease. Small farmers are unable to afford the regular spraying which would protect their cocoa crops. The industry also suffers from under-investment.
After independence in 1960, Ivory Coast enjoyed decades of stable government and became the wealthiest country in West Africa, boasting the fourth-largest economy south of the Sahara. Many state-owned companies, including electricity and water utilities were privatised over the last two decades. But with political divisions and coups, the economy slumped during the 1990s. It suffered further during the civil war of 2002 and the recent violence following elections in 2010.