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Côte d'Ivoire cocoa farmers to benefit from elections
With the United Nations having signed off on the finalized voter list for October presidential elections in Côte d'Ivoire, those who have the most to benefit from the long-delayed vote are the country's cocoa farmers. With economic and climate factors contributing to a turbulent recent history in the cocoa industry, and the potential benefits as well as the pitfalls have never been greater.
Côte d'Ivoire produces 40 per cent of the world's cocoa, and efforts to regulate the industry, increase harvests and improve the quality of the beans have been hampered by the eight-year political crisis.
It's been a strange cocoa season to say the least.
Heavy rains fuelled fears that the harvest would be decimated by black pod, a disease that thrives in wet conditions.
With an outbreak of swollen shoot disease going on in the center of the country, traders in London sent prices skyrocketing.
One trader tried to corner the market, amassing 240,000 tons of cocoa beans and selling them off when prices reached a 30-year high.
But the prices also drove local farmers to produce one of the largest crops in history, and exports are booming.
While this may seem like a positive result for impoverished farmers, some NGOs and corporations don't think so.
The drive to sell every bean available has been disastrous for Côte d'Ivoire's already bad reputation for quality.
The Rainforest alliance and the World Cocoa foundation, who have been working with farmers to improve conditions on the farms – both for the trees and the workers – have seen their efforts wasted in the drive for profit.
In addition, 28 top officials at the cocoa control boards will finally have their day court in November after two years in jail on corruption charges.
Long-awaited reforms from the top to the bottom of the cocoa industry may soon be enacted, especially if elections are held at the end of next month.