ABIDJAN, April 8 (Reuters) – Ivory Coast’s natural rubber output is expected to reach 1.1 million tonnes in 2021, up almost 16% from about 950,000 tonnes the previous year, a senior industry figure said on Thursday.
The world’s top cocoa producer, Ivory Coast is also Africa’s leading grower of natural rubber and the fourth largest in the world.
Production has risen in recent years as farmers attracted by the promise of more stable income have increasingly switched to rubber from cocoa.
“We are going to surpass one million tonnes to arrive at about 1.1 million,” said Marc Genot, director-general of Ivory Coast’s natural rubber producer Saph.
Genot spoke at a ceremony marking the start of construction of a new rubber processing plant in the western region of Soubre, in the heart of the cocoa belt.
He said the company would invest about 17.1 billion CFA francs ($31 million) to increase its processing capacity by 60,000 tonnes with the new factory, which is expected to be completed in two years.
Saph’s current processing capacity is about 230,000 tonnes. Ivory Coast’s total rubber processing capacity was about 664,000 tonnes last year.
“This factory will allow us to support growers who have difficulty selling their production and to improve resilience in case of a drop in (international) prices,” said Genot.
Provisional port data showed that Ivory Coast exported 1.2 million tonnes of rubber in 2020. Some of this was produced in neighbouring Liberia. ($1 = 548.5000 CFA francs) (Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Editing by Nellie Peyton and Jonathan Oatis)
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