Misanet.com / IPS, 5 June - A commodities exchange dedicated to trade in Ivorian cocoa and coffee is to be established in Abidjan on Tuesday. The Coffee and Cocoa Exchange is being set up by ANAPROCI, the national association of producers of the two commodities.
Henri Amouzou, ANAPROCI's president, says the government had long planned to set up the new exchange as part of a package of industry reforms, but "we had it up to here with waiting for these reforms to be applied. So we took it upon ourselves to set up the exchange."
Sansan Kouao, who has won several national production awards, barely contains his anger while explaining the exchange's fundamental purpose. "Producers have suffered enough in this country from the way our industry is so poorly managed. The government and the multinationals have used us to line their pockets. We've had enough," Kouao declares.
Brou Adou Pagni, Boaffo Kacoutie and Kouakou Djedou, other well-known planters, agree with Sansan Kouao that coffee and cocoa producers have long been the most poorly treated members of Côte d'Ivoire's agricultural sector. Yet, the country remains heavily dependent upon agriculture. The growers have endured years of being dismissed as disorganised, they say, but no longer: Now they have their own exchange as well as a new savings fund.
According to the planters, the lack of such an exchange has enabled multinational corporations to buy their goods directly from farms at low prices and with few incentives to increase production. "From now on," says producers' representatives Yao Fils Pascal, "we're taking fate into our own hands; we must if we're going to survive."
To buy Ivorian coffee and cocoa, the planters say, the international markets will have to deal with the local exchange. "Even better", says Amouzou, "the exchange will also sell futures. Therefore, we will be better able to regulate how much coffee and cocoa is on the international market, and this will allow us to participate in setting prices."
The exchange will be established Tuesday and is scheduled to open its doors to business 15 July. Its creators say the timeline is realistic. Its capital, set at one billion CFA francs, has been entirely provided by the producers and financed from their own resources, thanks to a fund to develop and promote the coffee and cocoa industry. One US dollar is equivalent to approximately 700 CFA francs.
In addition, the producers have announced the creation of a price stabilization fund, which will be funded by a voluntary contribution of 60 CFA francs paid from each kilo of cocoa the country produces. Producers' anger at the state sector notwithstanding, Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources Alphonse Douati welcomed the new exchange and told producers last week, "The government is on your side."
The exchange is "a wake-up call by Ivorian coffee and cocoa producers, which I hope other industry operators will hear," Douati said, adding that it "shows that small farmers will not cede ground in the government's reform process with which they have associated themselves."
He cautioned the producers to make sure the new exchange took all the necessary legal and regulatory steps in order to be fully functional by 15 July. According to Douati, the time is right for the exchange. Poor market conditions for coffee and cocoa have hit local producers and the poverty level in the countryside has risen as a result.
These two main export crops had record yields in 2000, with 1.4 million tons for cocoa and 379,000 tons for coffee. Liberalization and restructuring, however, have meant difficult selling conditions for the planters. Two years ago, industry liberalization resulted in steep drops in the prices paid to producers. Cocoa prices plunged from 500 CFA francs per kilo to only 250, and those for coffee from 350 CFA francs to 150.