Facing Covid-19, Côte d’Ivoire at the bedside of agriculture

Several countries in West Africa have recently announced measures to support their economies – particularly the agricultural sector – to cope with the spread of the coronavirus. This is the case of Côte d’Ivoire, which on 31 March published a plan to support the economy to the tune of CFAF 650 billion, including CFAF 300 billion dedicated exclusively to agricultural sectors (cash and food crops). CFAF 250 billion will thus be allocated to the main sectors of the national economy affected by the export freeze (cashew nuts, cotton, rubber, oil palm, cocoa, coffee), and CFAF 50 billion will go to food, vegetable and fruit production. On Friday 10 April, Agriculture Minister Kobenan Kouassi Adjoumani said that « support to the food sector includes urgent measures [acquisition and distribution of agricultural kits to producer groups, identification of suitable production sites and supervision of all producers] and post-Covid-19 measures [development of production sites not covered by the urgent measures, construction of storage infrastructure and establishment of a national food reserve, extension of tillage and mechanized harvesting] to be carried out between April and June 2020. While coffee and cocoa are doing rather well for the time being, the state is paying particular attention to cashew nuts. For seed cotton and rubber, there are fears of contract cancellations, while for oil palm, the indebtedness of the farmers and the sector is a real concern.