Country Case Studies: Ivory Coast
Ivory Coast is on the western coast of Africa, bordered by Ghana and Liberia. As previously mentioned in a FarmSahel article, Ghana is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Therefore, it is confusing as to why its neighbor, Ivory Coast, lags so far behind. The nation is a fairly new country that recently gained independence in 1960. The poverty rates in Ivory Coast, as well as malnutrition and gender inequality rates, are very high. Despite these statistics, the economy was on an increasing slope to economic growth in recent years. Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic hit Ivory Coast particularly hard. Not only has the coronavirus pandemic greatly affected the economy, but it has also had a detrimental effect on the current political state of the nation. Ivory Coast faced many obstacles in 2020 and must immediately take action to spring back its economy for a better future.
The agricultural sector is essential to the overall economy of Ivory Coast, just as it is to most Sub-Saharan nations. In Ivory Coast, two-thirds of the population are employed by the agricultural sector. The agricultural sector represents 30% of the GDP and 70% of export earnings. The main crops are grown predominantly by small scale farmers; rice, yam, cassava, plantain, maize, pineapple, banana, palm oil and especially cocoa. Cocoa, pineapple and palm oil have been instrumental to Ivory Coast’s past successes.
How did Ivory Coast go from a leading exporter in two main commodities to a poor economy within a mere thirty years?
The answer lies within extreme political unrest, civil war, recessions and droughts that have plagued the country in that time span. Poverty rates increased from 15% to 62% between 1985 and 2008. The agricultural industry itself is waning: “Low agricultural productivity, low purchasing prices, high cost of inputs, considerable post-harvest losses, inadequate use of modern farming techniques, and the ageing of coffee, cocoa and oil palm plantations have been blamed for keeping farmers’ incomes low” (New Agriculturist). There is also a dependence on cattle within the agricultural industry, but much of Ivory Coast is affected by tsetse flies and limited veterinary services. Ivory Coast must find substantial ways to improve its agricultural industry, as it is paramount to the overall growth of the nation.
To begin, Ivory Coast should fund neglected parts of the agricultural industry; for example, the rundown plantations which are a liability for farmers. They must also apply modern farming techniques alongside traditional ways; fertilizers and insecticides, for example, may increase the fertility and lifespan of crops in times of drought. Modern farming techniques may also save the cattle that have been afflicted by the tsetse flies. Widespread veterinary practices may also be necessary.
The sustainable future of cocoa is also a key to the nation’s growth. There are programs in place that can potentially maximize the output of cocoa crops- however, these initiatives are being taken by private companies, Nestle and Mars. If the Ivorian government implemented such programs into its public funding and investments, there could be a serious upturn for the livelihoods of Ivorian cocoa farmers. Unfortunately, Ivory Coast is also plagued with political unrest and a corrupt system. International donors are willing to take a chance and rebuild the nation’s failing agricultural system, but the government must stabilize in order to properly manage these funds. There are several factors, apart from the agricultural sector, that must be taken care of in order to ensure a smooth and sustainable future for the nation.
A corrupt government, political unrest, an unfavorable climate, pests and diseases have all led to the decline of what was once one of Africa’s leading exporters in hot commodities. It is necessary to stabilize the government in order to tackle the political unrest and corruption. As the 2020 elections have resurfaced political tensions amidst the coronavirus pandemic, it seems that Ivory Coast has a long way to go. Cocoa is also difficult to grow in extremely hot climates, so global climate change is another pressing concern. It is critical that Ivory Coast makes rapid changes to avoid catastrophic consequences in the future. Applying modern farming techniques and agricultural inputs should greatly improve crop output and yield, as well as investing into neglected plantations and farms. The funding from international donors, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, can help accelerate this process and stabilize the agricultural sector of the economy.
It is not only the agricultural sector that is crucial to the country’s overall growth- this truly lies in the hands of the younger generation. The poverty, malnutrition and gender inequality rates must be combated in order to set up the younger population for a hopeful future. Women, in particular, are a key to Ivory Coast’s future. The country should further integrate women into the economy, and develop its human capital to better meet the needs of the labor market (World Bank Group). Ivory Coast is a country that has enormous potential- if the correct policies and programs are applied, Ivory Coast may very well become a world’s leading exporter again.
Amede, Louis. “New Agriculturist.” New Agriculturist: Country Profile - Côte D'Ivoire, Dec. 2011, www.new-ag.info/en/country/profile.php?a=2317.
“Overview.” World Bank, 2 Oct. 2020, www.worldbank.org/en/country/cotedivoire/overview.