FILE PHOTO: Workers fill sacks with cocoa beans in Soubre, Ivory Coast
INTERNATIONAL - Ivory Coast is set to raise the minimum pay for cocoa farmers for the first time in two years after a recovery in global prices, according to three people familiar with the matter.

The world’s top cocoa grower will increase the so-called farmgate price to between 750 CFA francs ($1.34) and 800 francs per kilogram for the bigger of the two annual harvests that begins next week, said the people, who asked not to be identified because they’re not authorized to speak publicly about the matter. Minimum pay was 700 francs per kilogram for last main crop.

The issue was discussed at a commodities council meeting of President Alassane Ouattara on Wednesday morning and a final announcement will be made on Oct. 1, said the people.

A spokeswoman for cocoa regulator Le Conseil du Cafe-Cacao declined to comment when contacted by phone, while a spokesman for the government didn’t answer calls.

Cocoa futures in London have gained more than 10 percent over the past year on forecasts for smaller harvests in the world’s biggest producers in West Africa, staging a recovery after the previous year’s slump of almost a third. The increase will also narrow a price difference with neighboring Ghana, where farmers have been paid the equivalent of $1.57 per kilogram for the past two years, creating a gap which encouraged the smuggling of beans.

The last time Ivory Coast increased farmers’ pay was for the main harvest that started in October 2016, when the price rose by 10 percent to 1,100 francs per kilogram