Ivory Coast cocoa exporters said on Tuesday they will limit their purchases of mid-crop beans despite a better price discount offered by the country’s marketing board.

Under a sweeping reform of the cocoa sector aimed at improving farmer incomes and encouraging reinvestment in ageing plantations, Ivory Coast forward sold the bulk of its 2012/13 production.

The Coffee and Cocoa Council (CCC) then set a government guaranteed farmgate price of 725 CFA francs ($1.50) per kg, representing 60 percent of the CIF (cost, insurance, freight) export price.

The Coffee and Cocoa Council (CCC) is offering a 40 CFA franc/kg reduction in the CIF price of the mid-crops, compared with a 30 CFA franc offer in December. But the new discount offer - designed to incentivise exporters to buy beans from inland regions - is still less favourable than last year when exporters received 58 CFA francs.

“The grinders already have full stocks and will only pay if there is a better bonus,” said a director of an exporting firm in Abidjan. “We won’t be able to pay for everything under the current scheme. Part of the volume will stay with the growers or the middlemen,” he added.

Beans from the mid-crop are typically smaller and fetch a lower price on the international market. According to exporters, the production of the mid-crop is estimated to be between 350,000-375,000 tonnes compared with 378,000 tonnes last season.

As a result of the weak demand from exporters, stocks held by intermediaries are expected to swell in expectation of higher farmgate prices in 2014/2015.

The reform, a pre-requisite for IMF-backed debt relief, has been fraught with difficulties from the onset. Exporters initially boycotted the auctions when they were launched in early 2012.