"We have written to the Cashew-Cotton Council so that the aid and subsidies that the government granted us in 2022 are maintained this season, otherwise we will not be able to continue our activities," said Constance Kouame, secretary-general of the group of Ivorian processors.
The subsidies amount to about 9 billion CFA francs ($15 million) annually, plus access to credit through the National Investment Bank.
The five local processing companies are operating below capacity because of limited purchasing power. Together they bought about 33,000 tons of raw cashew nuts in 2022 and hope to increase that to 40,000 or 50,000 tons in 2023 if the aid is renewed, said Kouame.
Ivory Coast is the world's top cashew producer, with an annual production of about 1 million tons.
Only a small percentage of that is processed locally, as Ivorian processors have struggled to compete with Asian companies that pay higher prices for the raw nuts.
The government officially declined to comment, but a person close to the negotiations said it had received the letter and was considering the options. The cashew season starts in February.