Brazilian cocoa farmers petition government for ban on Cote d’Ivoire beans

By Anthony Myers

- Last updated on GMT

Brazilian cocoa farmers claim beans from Cote d'Ivoire could be infected with diseases. Pic: CN
Brazilian cocoa farmers claim beans from Cote d'Ivoire could be infected with diseases. Pic: CN

Related tags Cocoa Côte d'ivoire Cocoa bean Brazil

Brazilian cocoa farmers are putting pressure on the government to suspend imports from Cote d’Ivoire over a fear the cargo will also include insects and weed seeds such as Striga weed, putting local cocoa farms at risk.

Brazil's ANPC, an association representing cocoa farmers, said it will try to block or make transportation difficult to stop cocoa from Cote d’Ivoire, the world's largest producer, that is expected to arrive in the Brazilian state of Bahia this month.

"Our intention is to prevent that cocoa from being unloaded," ANPC's President Vanuza Barroso told Reuters, adding that farmers are discussing ways to do that or to put roadblocks along the transportation route for the Ivorian cocoa.

Brazil is the world's fifth largest chocolate maker but needs to import a significant quantity of the cocoa that it processes as local production was hit after a fungus disease, known as Witches Broom, destroyed farms during the 1980s, resulting in many farmers turning to other crops.

Thanks to technology, genetic improvement, and new varieties, Brazil has been upgrading its cocoa output – but is still not enough to supply the domestic industry. The country usually imports between 20% to 35% of the cocoa it grinds, and Cote d’Ivoire is the world’s largest supplier.

Reuters has reported that AIPC, an association gathering cocoa processors in Brazil such as Cargill, Olam and Barry Callebaut, disagrees with farmers, saying that Brazil's agriculture ministry has cleared Ivorian cocoa of any problems.

"The imported cocoa has already been through some post-harvesting processing such as drying and fermentation, which eliminates nearly any plague," said AIPC head Anna Paula Losi.

She told Reuters the local industry supports the idea of self-sufficiency for Brazil, but said that imports are needed until the country gets to that point.

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