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Cocoa Smuggling Increases in West Africa

For VOA Learning English, this is the Agriculture Report.

Ivory coast is the world's largest producer and exporter of the cocoa bean. But, people have been illegally transporting, or smuggling, cocoa beans between Ivory Coast and neighboring Ghana for many years. Ivorian growers smuggled their cocoa beans into Ghana because prices were higher and more dependable there. But that has changed.

Ghanaian money lost value recently while Ivory Coast has become more secure after a period of unrest. Now Ghanaian farmers are smuggling their beans into Ivory Coast, where they get a better price. The government in Ivory Coast has set a price for cocoa beans. It hopes that will help keep the beans in the country. At the same time, Ghana's money has dropped in value against the dollar by more than 40 percent. This has caused a loss of profits for the country's cocoa growers. They can make more money if they smuggle their crop to Ivory Coast. Ghanaian farmers who do not send their cocoa beans to Ivory Coast are urging the government to keep other farmers from doing so.

One way to slow the smuggling would be to increase the price of cocoa in Ghana. But Ghana has a budget deficit so it does not have the money to support such a move. These beans are needed to make chocolate. Ivory Coast, Ghana and other West African countries together produce more than 65 percent of the world's cocoa crop. Industry experts estimate that up to 100,000 tons of beans have been smuggled into Ivory Coast from Ghana since last October.

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