The challenge: to support the country's leading job-creating sector, which has been hard hit by the Covid-19 crisis.
Announced at the end of March by Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly as part of his response plan to the Covid-19 pandemic, the measures to support the country’s agricultural sectors are beginning to be implemented.
On Friday 22 May, the Presidential Council on the progress of the implementation of the economic, social and humanitarian support plan against the Covid-19 announced the immediate release of an initial envelope of 150.8 billion CFA francs (230 million euros), including 130 billion directly released by the State. The balance will be covered by the donor partners. In detail, the Ivorian cashew nut industry – the world’s leading producer (761,331 tonnes in 2018) – will be allocated a subsidy of 35 billion CFA francs, the main objective being to guarantee a price of 400 CFA francs (0.61 euros) per kilo to producers. Next in descending order of financial support are the rubber (24.98 billion), rice (12 billion), fruit (10.5 billion), cotton (5.56 billion) and oil palm (3.5 billion) sectors. This government support should also benefit the food sector (maize, cassava, plantains, vegetables and market garden produce), which will receive a cumulative subsidy of 21.22 billion CFA francs. The same applies to livestock and fisheries, which will receive CFAF 1.5 billion (pork, beekeeping and rabbit breeding) and CFAF 2.56 billion (artisanal fishing and aquaculture) respectively.
However, it is not certain that this one-off aid plan, decided as part of the government’s response plan to the Covid-19 pandemic, will be enough to bring about a lasting change in Côte d’Ivoire’s agricultural sector. As the world’s leading producer, the Ivorian cashew nut industry could thus come up against – once again and despite the government’s willingness to guarantee a price of 400 CFA francs (0.61 euro) per kilo – a discount from the official rate, with foreign buyers often arguing the low fine content of Ivorian cashew nuts in order to impose a reduced price. This is a recurrent situation, linked to market forces, which is not expected to change any time soon. The latest household survey (2015) by the National Institute of Statistics showed that 57 per cent of the poor in Côte d’Ivoire live in rural areas, while 15 per cent of rural dwellers suffer from food insecurity, compared to 10 per cent of urban dwellers.
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