Africa cocoa producers hit by low global prices

Ghana has missed out on nearly US$1 billion in export earnings due to a steep decline in global cocoa prices that has also forced Ivory Coast to slash its 2017 budget.VIDEO: REUTERS

ABIDJAN, IVORY COAST (REUTERS) - Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara urged cocoa farmers to raise production and quality and said a 40 per cent fall in global cocoa prices this season had hurt the nation's economy and budget.

Bumper crops in Ivory Coast, the world's top producer, and other countries have sent prices tumbling this season. Ivory Coast has slashed its 2017 budget due to the lower prices. At the same time, the country's production could reach a record 2 million tonnes this season.

"Our country's economy is going through a difficult period marked by an internal and external shock caused by the 40 percent reduction in cocoa prices on international markets," Ouattara said during a May Day address in the commercial capital Abidjan.

He also urged civil servants to avoid taking strike action to promote wage claims while the government studies the issue. Civil servants staged a strike in January that lasted more than three weeks over salary arrears.

Ivory Coast's budget is also under pressure following payouts to disgruntled soldiers who took to the streets in protest several times this year.

The protests represent a serious political issue given that the country emerged in 2011 from a decade-long political crisis and civil war and has since become Africa's fastest growing