Abidjan, Oct 2 (PTI) Cote d'lvoire, the world's largest cocoa producer and exporter, is keen to explore the Indian market for direct marketing of cocoa and cocoa-based products, and the sector regulator will visit the Asian country next month.

Cocoa regulator Le Conseil du Cafe-Cacao not only wants market access in India for cocoa products, but is also looking for investors and partnerships for processing cocoa in Cote d'lvoire.

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Currently, much of the cocoa produce in Cote d'lvoire -- also known as Ivory Coast located in West Africa -- is marketed through middlemen and third parties, leading to lower returns for farmers.

"Until now, our colonisers (France) built a system of dependency on Europe for cocoa trade. But we are open to selling our products to other countries. We are ready to sell directly to Indian manufacturers," Cocoa regulator Le Conseil di Cafe-Cacao Managing Director Yves Brahima Kone told PTI in an interview.

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"We are going to India in November and meet potential partners and government leaders to explore direct marketing of cocoa. We will be able to sell cocoa products or semi-finished products," he said.

Asked whether the high duties on the import of cocoa will be a subject of discussion, the regulator said it would be one of the issues slated for discussion.

"It is going to be a win-win situation for both sides," he said.

The regulator said the consumption of cocoa products in India is increasing, and that will drive the trade strategy during the discussion with Indian leaders.

It is the first time that the cocoa regulator from Cote d'lvoire will be visiting India -- which imports around 1 lakh tonne of cocoa products -- for the promotion of the cocoa trade.

At present, Cote d'lvoire is focusing more on processing and transformation of cocoa into products like cocoa powder and cocoa butter, among others, to ensure better returns to the farmers and expand its cocoa economy. It has capped annual domestic production at 2.5 million tonne.

"We are promoting processing of the commodity (as value addition will get us more income) before selling it. We are looking for partnerships and setting up processing facilities," said Colulibaly Siaka Minayaha, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Le Conseil du Cafe-Cacao.

He said the country aims to achieve a processing level of 49 per cent in the current year.

To encourage the processing of cocoa, the regulator has taken several steps to organise farmers and establish cooperatives of smallholding growers, he added.

The regulator also said the country is in the process of complying with European norms on sustainability, deforestation and child labour.

International Cocoa Organization (ICCO) Executive Director Michel Arrion said India is an emerging market for the consumption of cocoa, used largely in the manufacturing of chocolates and should become a member of the inter-governmental body.

Out of 5 million tonne of global cocoa production, Cote d'lvoire alone produces about 2-2.5 million tonne annually and exports almost the entire quantity, including value-added products like cocoa butter.

Cote d'lvoire, located in West Africa, harvests cocoa twice a year, with the first crop picked during October-March, and the second crop in April-September. PTI LUX

The PTI journalist is in Abidjan on invitation from the cocoa regulator.

(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from Syndicated News feed, LatestLY Staff may not have modified or edited the content body)