Ivory Coast, a Big Cocoa Exporter, Tries to Move Up the Ladder

GRAND-BASSAM, Ivory Coast — The worker carefully peeled the husks from the cocoa beans to keep them from breaking, then tipped them into a metal tray that a colleague slid into an oven. The aroma of roasting beans filled the small shop in this seaside town, where the worker, Marie-France Kozoro, readied the next batch for its journey to becoming chocolate.

Nearly six million people rely on the cocoa industry in the West African nation of Ivory Coast, the world’s biggest cocoa producer. But most of them are not involved in the processing of the crispy, sour beans that are turned into a sweet treat.

Instead, they focus on growing, harvesting and selling raw cocoa beans bound for Europe and are mostly excluded from the financial benefits produced by the lucrative chocolate industry. It is chocolate made abroad, not raw cocoa, that yields the most revenue, and that money flows to larger foreign producers.

But in recent years, a new generation of Ivorian chocolatiers has been trying to…

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This article was written by Elian Peltier and Andrew Caballero-Reynolds and originally published on www.nytimes.com