Côte d'Ivoire, with a current GDP of 156.04 billion USD and a population of 26.958 million in 2020, is the hub of commercial activities in West Africa, constituting 40% of the West African Economic and Monetary Union’s total GDP (IMF) . Economy was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, but it remained amongst the few Sub-Saharan African economies that maintained growth. According to the IMF, GDP growth slowed down to 2.3% in 2020, from 6.2% in 2019. Assuming global conditions gradually normalize, growth is projected to pick-up to 6.0% in 2021 boosted by reviving domestic demand.
Côte d’Ivoire has a large agriculture potential, as about 75% of the territory constitutes arable agricultural land. With its fertile land and a variety of resources to grow, Côte d'Ivoire has been gradually diversifying its agricultural production and established itself as a major exporter of a wide range of agricultural products. The agriculture sector plays an important role in the economy, by contributing to around 22% of GDP, employing half of the labour force and accounting for 40% of all exports (World Bank, 2018). Being the world’s largest producer and exporter of cocoa beans and cashew nuts and a significant producer of coffee, palm oil and natural rubber, Côte d'Ivoire has enjoyed remarkable economic success since 2012 and has become a major economic power in the West African subregion. As of 2020, Côte d'Ivoire is Africa’s top natural rubber producer and exporter, and the fourth largest producer in the world.
Hevea brasiliensis was first trialled in the country in 1940’s but cultivation only started in 1953 by Compagnie Française de Caoutchouc d’Extrême-Orient et d’Afrique and Société Africaine de Plantation d’Hévéa (S.A.P.H) a year later. The Côte d'Ivoire government has made extensive research and development as part of its rubber development plans. IRCA has carried out research on high yielding clones, tapping techniques and processing. SAPH and SOGB provided free extension support during the establishment phase. Rubber produced by estates are processed and sold as different grades of TSR. The cup lumps mainly produced by smallholders are processed to obtain granulated rubber.
Video on Ivorian Agriculture
CNN - How sustainability could drive up demand for Ivory Coast rubber.