Up to 100 million U.S. dollars will be invested in Cote d'Ivoire's cocoa production, a chocolate manufacturing company announced on Tuesday, just a day after the official opening of the first world conference on cocoa in Abidjan, the economic capital of the West African country.
The announcement was made by Tim Cafer, the European president for Monderler International, which is one of the biggest chocolate making companies in the world, after meeting with Cote d'Ivoire Prime Minister Jeannot Kouadio-Ahoussou on Monday.
"We came to see the prime minister to inform him that Monderler International will invest 100 million dollars for the benefit of Cote d'Ivoire cocoa producers and their families," Cafer told the press in Abidjan.
He said the investment will be done under the auspices of a program dubbed "Cocolaille," which will see 400 million dollars set aside for the benefit of cocoa producers in some African and Asian countries.
The international cocoa trade stands at 13 billion dollars per year and the chocolate sector, which depends on it, is valued at a yearly 105 billion dollars.
Out of 50 countries producing cocoa in the world, four are in Africa representing 70 percent of the global cocoa produce.
Cote d'Ivoire is the world's biggest producer, making up 40 percent of the worldwide supply.
According to experts, cocoa farming has entered a period of "structural deficit," especially due to the low levels of productivity and quality, the ageing farmers and orchards, increased disease outbreaks, reduced utilization of pesticides and the competition from other products like hevea and palm oil.
The ongoing five-day world conference on cocoa brings together more than 1,000 participants. It is scheduled to examine the strategic challenges to cocoa farming and seek appropriate solutions.