Ivory Coast farmers abandon cassava for more lucrative rubber

From Global development | The Guardian Thu Feb 28 2013, 14:21:56

The switch to a more commercial crop by farmers near Abidjan is putting food supplies - and a cultural tradition - in jeopardy

Farmers near Abidjan, Ivory Coast's commercial capital, are abandoning cassava, a staple for many Ivorians, and switching to natural rubber, a move that may jeopardise food self-sufficiency, analysts say.

Large numbers of farmers began to take an interest in rubber in the past decade because of high prices resulting from a surge in global demand, Alphonse Gnaoré Koh, an expert from the National Rural Development Agency in Dabou, a rubber centre 50km west of Abidjan, told IRIN.

Prices jumped from 200 West African CFA francs (£0.26) per kilo in 2002 to 1,200 francs in 2007, but have fallen back since to 550 francs, he said. The rubber rush is pushing out farmers of cassava, said agro-economist Daouda Dahaux, from Abidjan's Swiss Centre for Scientific Research, and there is evidence that cocoa farmers may not reign supreme for long either.

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