March 18 (Bloomberg) -- Ivory Coast, the world’s biggest cocoa producer, will keep prices paid to farmers unchanged for now as the smaller of two annual crops is set to start next month, according to the industry regulator.
The fixed price of 725 CFA francs ($1.43) a kilogram (2.2 pounds) will remain in effect “until further notice,” Le Conseil du Cafe-Cacao said today on its website. The so-called mid-crop will begin April 1, it said. The regulator urged buyers and cooperatives holding beans from the main crop, which started in October, to sell them by March 31.
The price paid to farmers may drop to 664.50 CFA francs a kilogram for the mid-crop, according to the mean estimate of six traders, processors and analysts in a Bloomberg survey last month. Two people in the survey said they expected the so-called farmgate price to be unchanged. Cocoa in London fell 0.4 percent to 1,422 pounds ($2,150) a ton on NYSE Liffe today.
Ivory Coast changed how the cocoa crop is sold this season as part of conditions imposed in a $4.4 billion debt relief backed by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Farmers were granted a price guarantee that’s 60 percent of the world market value of the chocolate ingredient and the government agreed to sell 70 percent to 80 percent of the crop before the start of the season.
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