Top cocoa producer Ivory Coast said it has handed out electronic cards that allow for the tracking and tracing of cocoa to nearly three-quarters of farmers as it prepares to comply with an EU law banning the import of commodities linked to deforestation.
The EU Deforestation Regulation (EUDR), which forces importers of commodities such as cocoa to prove their goods did not originate from deforested land anywhere in the world, or face hefty fines, comes into effect in late 2024.
Ivory Coast ships around 70% of its cocoa output to the bloc, and the chocolate-making ingredient accounts for about 40% of the its export earnings, making the country heavily reliant on smooth trade with the EU.
"The distribution of cards is going very well, we have (handed out) over 700,000 cards. By October, (all) planters will have received their cards. We will be ready," Yves Brahima Kone, director general of the country's cocoa regulator told Reuters at an industry event in Amsterdam.
Ivory Coast has an estimated one million cocoa farmers, and according to a government study commissioned in 2019, about 15% of the country's cocoa plantations are located in protected forest areas.
Industry experts say even if the country finishes handing out the cards in time, the EUDR could still disrupt its exports, not least because by its own admission, a large chunk of its beans are grown in protected forests.
Elsewhere, Ivory Coast's cocoa regulator expects the country's April-to-September mid-crop to fall to 400,000-450,000 metric tonnes, two sources at the regulator told Reuters, down from around 550,000 tonnes last year.