Ivory Coast cocoa-exporting farmers have asked their government to lower taxes to help them compete with more influential foreign exporters.

The West African country is the number one grower of cocoa and will begin its most productive season of the year in October until March next year. However, cocoa cooperatives have been increasingly marginalized by private companies who can afford to pay farmers a higher price for their cocoa produce.

We are in major difficulty and could disappear by the end of the next season if the government does not take our proposals into account, said Jacques Aboule, director general of Ucoopexci, according to Reuters.

Ucoopexci, , a union of exporting co-ops, has called on the government to assist in financing its processing plants in order to allow Ivorians to produce and export added value products. This is still an activity that is done mainly by foreign companies, Aboule said.

Aboule said cooperatives had the capability to control up to 400,000 tons, a third of the country's cocoa output. Annual cocoa production in the Ivory Coast averaged around 1.3 million tons in the last few years. Cooperatives say less and less of it is passing through their hands.