The Ivorian sugar industry hopes to become self-sufficient in five years

Like other West African heads of state, Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara has implemented several measures to counter rising food prices and limit its impact on purchasing power.

These include setting ceiling prices for certain products, in particular rice, oil and flour; create regional committees dedicated to the fight against high cost of living and increase checks on regulated tariffs.

At the same time, governments – in partnership with the private sector – are seeking to accelerate local production. Côte d’Ivoire, for its part, is seeking to develop its sugar sector, as Souleymane Diarrassouba, Minister of Trade and Industry, as well as the former Managing Director of the Atlantic Business International (ABI) group, explains.

What are you doing to revive the Ivorian sugar industry, which is not very competitive on the international scene?

Souleymane Diarrassouba: The government signed an investment contract of 230 million euros with the companies Sucaf (Somdiaa) and Sucrivoire (Sifca). It also aims to increase production from 206,037 tonnes

A special import authorization – but with a zero margin – was granted to these manufacturers to cover 50% of the needs of the agrifood industries, using sugar as an input. Finally, a research program has been launched to improve the yield of our sugar cane plantations.

Sugar imports from Brazil and Thailand, often via other West African countries, weaken the sector. What are the possible solutions ?

We continue to strengthen market surveillance and border controls to track down violators. It is also a matter of ensuring that the sugar imported and intended for the countries of the hinterland is not resold in our country during transit.

Our administration – with customs and Association of Sugar Industries of Côte d’Ivoire, The AIS (Association des Industries Sucrières de Côte d’Ivoire) which works in perfect harmony – is doing everything possible to protect the sector.

How are we going to become self-sufficient when it comes to sugar?

The contract-plan, which was signed on May 1, provides that this objective will be achieved over the next five years. The investments of the two agro-industrial groups in their factories, plantations and R&D will allow a gradual and parallel increase in the production of raw cane and sugar as well as an improvement in the competitiveness of the sector.

Rachel J. Bradford