By Directorate of Communication – Presidency of Cote d’Ivoire
Agriculture has always been a mainstay of Côte d’Ivoire’s economy. It is an unparalleled source of employment and wealth for a country with enough arable land to sustain a primary sector of rare diversity in the sub-region. It is precisely to strengthen this role as the agricultural breadbasket of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) that the government has made the consolidation of the sector a key component of its 2016-2020 National Development Plan (NDP), with the objective of significantly improving the processing rate of agricultural raw materials.
Since Côte d’Ivoire gained independence, the agricultural sector has been one of the main drivers of its economic growth. If we include forestry, hunting and fishing, as well as animal production, the primary sector as a whole accounts for more than a quarter of national wealth creation each year. Therefore, when the government drew up the various development plans implemented since 2012 to set the country on the path to economic emergence, its consolidation and modernisation were made a priority. By processing its agricultural raw materials locally, Côte d’Ivoire intends to transform the entire structure of its economy, while creating much-needed jobs for its young people.
Major national plans
With agriculture being so pivotal to Côte d’Ivoire’s economic growth, the sector and its stakeholders are benefiting from successive and complementary support and development plans. For example, the National Agricultural Investment Plan (PNIA), covering the period 2012-2015, was first updated, and then bolstered by the 2016-2020
National Development Plan (NDP). The objectives are still ambitious: increasing the sector’s growth to 9% per year, so that it stimulates the entire national economy while ensuring food security throughout the country; promoting the local processing of agricultural products and encouraging the building of an agro-industrial fabric, in order to create over two million jobs and thus reduce poverty.
Unrivalled potential in the sub-region
Côte d’Ivoire’s natural agricultural potential is unparalleled in the sub-region in terms of climate, water resources and arable land, with more than 13 million hectares of cultivable land still available. Already the world’s largest producer of cocoa beans and the second largest producer of cashew nuts, the country has been able to diversify its production and ranks among the leading African producers in some key sectors, from palm oil to rubber, cotton to coffee, and bananas to pineapples. Subsistence farming, comprising a wide variety of tubers and cereals, has also seen its volumes increase to such an extent that it is now able to cover overall nationwide needs. This is not yet the case in the livestock sector which, despite its dynamic nature, does not produce enough to meet domestic demand for meat and milk. However, the country has the means to import the shortfall, due to its agricultural trade balance, which has been largely positive in recent years, in the wake of the steady increase in its export volumes.
Processing as a growth factor
To create jobs and wealth, Côte d’Ivoire aims to add value to its cash crops by processing them prior to exporting them, especially its two most important sectors. Currently, 30% of cocoa beans are processed locally, which is still far from the 50% targeted in the NDP, but new tax incentives to motivate industrialists are soon to be introduced. Special attention is also being given to the cashew nut sector because, despite being the largest producer in Africa, Côte d’Ivoire still only locally processes 10% of the 800,000 tons of cashew nuts produced every year. Given that the sector already employs nearly 250,000 people, mainly in the north of the country, the employment potential is therefore promising. This is a model to be replicated in other sectors in other production regions, so that the whole of Côte d’Ivoire can benefit from its tremendous agricultural potential.
INTERNATIONAL AGRICULTURE MEETS IN ABIDJAN
From 22 November to 1 December, the fifth edition of the Abidjan International Agricultural and Animal Resources Fair (SARA) will take place in Côte d’Ivoire’s economic capital, with France as the guest of honour. The theme of this year’s edition is intelligent agriculture and technological innovations. The event has become, in the space of a few years, an essential rendezvous on the continent for the various sector stakeholders, as well as an invaluable showcase for promoting the wealth of Côte d’Ivoire’s agricultural, livestock and fisheries sectors. As well as highlighting the significance of Côte d’Ivoire’s agriculture in the sub-region, the hosting of such an exhibition demonstrates the determination of the State to attract the capital and skills needed to modernise the sector and make it competitive on an international scale.