Ivory Coast is currently experiencing an illegal boom in Cocoa planting. But this boom might need some regulation, at least this is what the government proposes as more and more illegal cocoa planting finds its way into the country’s agriculture landscape. Mont Peko, a town with an illegal population of around 28,000, will prove the first test of the government’s new policy. This policy, exerted by President Alassane Ouattara will be the expulsion of tens of thousands of farmers from parks and reserves with they key aim being conservation of the land. These upcoming evictions will take place in December and similar operations will follow in Ivory Coast’s more than 200 parks and reserves where more and more farmers are taking advantage of the landscape for illegal cocoa planting.
According to Adama Tondossama, director of the OIPR, “The role of a national park is not to produce cocoa,”Adama has worked for over ten years in agencies charged with managing protected land. “Those people who are there are there illegally and we’ll fight to get them out.” he said, in an interview with Reuters.
This task will not be easy. What the Ivory Coast government faces is a dilemma in rolling back almost decades of soil erosion and environmental damage. The question is can it foster conservation while avoiding social unrest and preserving the country’s position as the world’s top cocoa grower?
Reuters reports that, “Ivory Coast produced 1.2 million tonnes of cocoa in the 2000/01 season, a year before a failed coup attempt sparked a civil war that split the country in half.”
In the recently ended season the country harvested some 40 percent of world supply. Statistics show that those illegal plantations would lead to a fall in output if not handled.
With a new presidential elect in office it will be interesting to see where the policies fall for one of West Africa’s leading countries.
To learn more about the illegal cocoa farms in Ivory Coast, visit this article by Reuters