CÔTE D’IVOIRE – The Ivorian government has announced a precautionary suspension of the export of local rice and sugar, for the period from September 18 to December 31, 2023, to protect the purchasing power of the population.

The decision follows strong tensions in recent days due to the skyrocketing prices of rice and sugar in the Ivorian market.

According to the information note, these two measures aim to combat the high cost of living and ensure regular supply of the national market. They come a week after the decision by Ivorian authorities to cap the prices of rice, sugar, and other consumer products, due to a surge in prices.

According to spot investigations by the Ministry of Commerce, in certain areas of Abidjan, the economic capital, a 22.5 kg bag of rice is sold at 15,000 FCFA (US$24.55) instead of 13,150 FCFA (US$21.7), the capped price, while 1 kg brown sugar costs negotiated at 900 FCFA (US$1.5), instead of 770 FCFA (US$1.3).

In Côte d’Ivoire, rice is the second most imported product after fish accounting for 60% of the demand which is around 2.4 million tonnes per year.

In 2021, purchases of the cereal on the international market cost the public treasury around $657 million, according to government data.

The situation has worsened due to measures taken by the main suppliers, notably India, which banned the export of certain qualities of rice leading to the price of rice on the international market experiencing disruptions.

In its Food Price Index, the Food and Agriculture Organization reported that the prices of rice and sugar have bucked the trend of declining food commodity costs in August, driven by India’s export ban on basmati rice and concerns surrounding the El Niño weather phenomenon. 

As a result, FAO reported that rice prices reached a 15-year high globally.

To meet the growing demand of its population and keep up with the global disruptions, the Ivorian government plans to increase its production of milled rice by 27%, bringing stocks to 1.4 million tonnes in 2023. 

Currently, local rice production in Côte d’Ivoire is estimated at around 1.1 million tonnes per year.

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