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Top cocoa grower leaves Ivorians puzzled over rice ministry

With 13 months to go to presidential elections, Ivory Coast last week named a new, larger government with a portfolio that left many puzzled.

Alongside a minister for cities, an unusual post created in recent years, the world’s biggest cocoa grower now has a minister for the promotion of rice farming. While that may be a result of plans to grow enough rice by 2025 to stop relying on imports, the country already has an agriculture ministry, as well as an animal resources and fisheries ministry.

That made the cabinet quickly the target of cynical jokes on social media. One Twitter user said that as far as titles go, a minister in charge of rice farming would have made more sense. Another remarked that even the world’s biggest rice growers don’t have dedicated ministers. The candidate for the job was also a bit of a surprise: Gaoussou Toure has a wealth of experience — in cashew nuts.

The second reshuffle of Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly’s government since 2017, many appointments are believed to be political as the West African nation is heading to a tense election next year, with an opposition that’s likely to be larger and more united than in previous elections in 2010 and 2015. That may explain why the government now counts 42 members, from 36 previously and only 28 in 2017.

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