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Swollen shoot disease, slump in cashew prices hurt Ivory Coast badly

The economy of Ivory Coast, one of the world’s biggest exporters of cocoa and cashew nuts, is currently hurting from a combined problem of crop diseases and falling global prices

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The economy of Ivory Coast, one of the world’s biggest exporters of cocoa and cashew nuts, is currently hurting from a combined problem of crop diseases and falling global prices.

Monitored reports say swollen shoot disease is worsening in the heart of Ivory Coast’s cocoa belt with some plantations seeing a significant drop in production, farmers and exporters said on Tuesday.

The viral disease, which typically kills trees within a few years, first appeared a few years ago in southern and western Ivory Coast but is now causing serious damage to crops.

Ivory Coast is the world’s top cocoa grower with annual production reaching 2 million tonnes last season. About 60 percent of that comes from the south and west.

Meanwhile, Cashew nut farmers and exporters in Ivory Coast are seeing a slump in sales as Vietnamese exporters try to get out of contracts following a drop in world prices, an official said on Tuesday.

Ivory Coast is the world’s top cashew nut producer with output of 770,000 tonnes expected this year. Exporters in Vietnam, which has a major cashew processing industry, buy 70 percent of that production.

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International prices for cashews have dropped by nearly half since March after consumers in the United States and Saudi Arabia objected to high prices. In response, exporters want to pay less than the state-imposed price for this season.

“The contracts that the exporters signed have been called into question,” Adama Coulibaly, the general director of Ivory Coast’s cotton and cashew council, told Reuters. “The Vietnamese processors have seen their margin erode.”

Coulibaly said Ivorian authorities were in discussions with the Vietnamese exporters to insist that they respect the contracts signed in February at the beginning of the cashew-growing season.

According to farmers and exporters, between 150,000 and 200,000 tonnes of cashew nuts have not been sold because exporters have not been willing to buy at the fixed price.

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Nigerien President, Mohamed Bazoum wants employment quotas for African immigrants

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Niger’s President Mohamed Bazoum wants employment quotas for African immigrants tailored to job needs from European countries.

President Bazoum made the position in an interview with an Italian newspaper, La Repubblica. on Friday.

The president’s argument is that the quota will address European countries’ needs for its labour market and could help resolve the problem of illegal migration and human trafficking.

“In France, Spain, and Italy you have many jobs in sectors of employment where Africans can work,” Bazoum said.

“These numbers need to be established, country by country, and then the consulates entrusted with the responsibility of enforcing them.”

Surveys of African migrants in or heading toward Europe reveal that the majority were either employed or in school at the time of their departure. Yet, they felt despair over their economic prospects.

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IMF Chief, Ceyla Pazarbasioglu, to visit China over Africa’s growing debt profile

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As the debt profile of many African countries continues to rise, the International Monetary Fund strategy chief, Ceyla Pazarbasioglu will travel to China next week for another high-level meeting.

Her travel is part of efforts to press the world’s largest sovereign creditor for quicker progress on debt restructurings for countries in need.

The IMF chief had called for debt restructuring arrangements for Zambia and Chad to be completed shortly.

Pazarbasioglu said it was critical to move forward and that “outreach to China next week is very important, at the highest levels.”

“It’s moving – very slowly, but it’s moving,” Pazarbasioglu said, noting that the participation of mining company Glencore Plc in the Chad treatment was also “a very good sign” that “even the most difficult private sector participants” were participating.

She said the Paris Club of official bilateral creditors had taken years to hammer out their debt relief processes, and China was learning, although she noted that the debt issues facing borrowing countries now were acute.

“The problem we have is that we don’t have that time right now because these countries are very fragile and dealing with debt vulnerabilities,” she said. “What we need is speed.”

Pazarbasioglu said the IMF would continue to press for changes to the Common Framework, including a freeze in debt payments when countries apply for a debt treatment, as well as clearer procedures and timelines for action, and ensuring comparable treatment for private creditors.

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