The Ivory Coast’s cocoa industry looks like it could break through the current crisis to resume operations within the next few weeks.

The detainment of the country’s ex-president Laurent Gbagbo and the lifting of European Union sanctions on the two main ports at the request of current Ivory Coast leader Alassane Ouattara has led to limited optimism returning to the country.

Kissy Agyeman-Togobo, partner at African business consultancy Songhai Advisory, tells GTR from neighbouring Ghana: “In theory, the resumption of cocoa exports should be imminent now that Laurent Gbagbo has been captured. But normalcy can only be brought to the country once the security situation improves.”

Agyeman-Togobo explains that around 500,000 tonnes of cocoa are being held up in the country because of the export ban, but in theory exports should resume within weeks so long as the supply chain runs smoothly.

“By this, I am referring to logistics and personnel and then also upon the EU lifting the ban imposed on its importers,” Agyeman-Togobo continues.

Major international cocoa producers with supply lines in the Ivory Coast are also glad to hear the news.

Our operations in Côte d’Ivoire have been suspended since the first week of March.”

“We welcome the positive signals and are pleased that we might soon restart our business operations in the country,” a spokesperson for international chocolate producer Barry Callebaut tells GTR.

However, the spokesperson stops short of suggesting when business will be back to normal.

“It is too early to judge when exports will resume. We continue to closely monitor the further developments of the situation,” the spokesperson goes on to say, adding that the firm fell back on contingency plans by stepping up production in other countries.

Multinational food producer ADM echoes Barry Callebaut’s sentiments, and has shifted its cocoa production to other countries including Ghana, Singapore, Brazil and the United States.

The firm is maintaining its suspension of operations in the country.

“Our operations in Côte d’Ivoire have been suspended since the first week of March,” a spokesperson confirms to GTR.

Both president incumbent Gbagbo and internationally recognised president Ouattara have used the country’s position as number one cocoa producer in the world in the battle for control.

In March, Gbagbo nationalised the industry, while two months earlier, Ouattara slapped export sanctions on all coffee and cocoa trading.