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Feature: Chinese agro-processing plants help upgrade rubber industry in Cote d'Ivoire

Updated: June 20, 2023 Source: Xinhua News Agency
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ABIDJAN, June 19 (Xinhua) -- Early in the morning, Yobouet Gnagne Roland, chairman of a rubber cooperative in Cote d'Ivoire, rushed to deliver cup lumps that were freshly harvested to a Chinese rubber processing factory near the southern city of Dabou, feeling tired and happy.

As the rubber tapping season commences in June, trucks are lined up outside the factory every day, waiting to offload locally sourced natural rubber, which will be processed into standard rubber at the plants and then shipped to China where the materials will be made into various rubber products, such as tyres and toys.

"In the past, we struggled with an excess of local rubber production. The presence of the Chinese factories has been a gamer-changer, enabling us to access new sales channels," Roland told Xinhua, noting that monthly production of his cooperative is almost doubled.

Cote d'Ivoire is a leading rubber producer in the world. However, lack of processing plants has limited the country's ability to tap the potential of the rubber industry. The nation could only export raw materials that added little value to farmers.

In 2020, the Mainland Group, based in China's eastern coastal city of Qingdao, launched its first rubber primary processing plant in the West African country. Two years later, a second plant was put into operation, bringing the total annual capacity to approximately 260,000 tons, equivalent to a quarter of the country's annual rubber production.

Brou Bonaventure, resource supervisor of the Ivorian Interprofessional Fund for Agricultural Research and Advice, said before the Chinese company came to the country, local farmers did not have distribution and transportation channels, and were stuck with large and costly amounts of overstock and had to sell raw materials at low prices. However, things are becoming better as the Chinese factory has provided stable and reasonably priced shipping channels for the farmers.

The rubber factory is one of the examples demonstrating the thriving agricultural cooperation between China and Cote d'Ivoire. In February 2022, the Mainland Group and several other Chinese companies jointly established 11 agricultural processing plants in West African countries, mainly in Cote d'Ivoire. These plants will process rubber, palm oil, cotton, soybeans and corn, aiming to increase the value of agricultural products exported from Africa to the rest of the world.

The rapid growth of the agricultural industries in Cote d'Ivoire has brought more job opportunities. Zhang Liang, deputy general manager of the Mainland Group, said more than 1,000 local people are working at the two operational rubber plants, and the other two plants under construction will provide another 1,000 new jobs, which will also boost the economic development of the surrounding communities.

More and more young people working in big cities are returning home, where agricultural production, such as rubber cultivation, brings them more incomes, Bonaventure said.

Editor: Su Dan