Ivory Coast to Start Destroying Cocoa Trees in Forests

(Bloomberg) -- Ivory Coast said it will start destroying cocoa crops that are grown in protected areas as the world’s top producer seeks to end the destruction of its forests.

The West African country had 16 million hectares (40 million acres) of forests in 1960, but this has fallen to 3 million hectares, according to the government. The nation wants to recover 20 percent of its forest cover in the next ten years.

The program to cut down trees will begin in the next two months, Forestry Minister Alain Richard Donwahi told reporters Friday in the commercial capital, Abidjan. Farmers are producing as much as 500,000 tons of cocoa per season in protected areas, he said.

Producers in priority regions have been prepared for relocation since December and will be given assistance to increase their yields on less space, he said.

The country will raise 616 billion CFA francs ($1.1 billion) to roll out the program over the next ten years, of which the government and industry already contributed 300,000 euros ($350,310) for the first phase, he said.

Ivory Coast produced more than 2 million tons in the season through September 2017.

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