(Adds quote, details)
ABIDJAN, Sept 27 (Reuters) - Top grower Ivory Coast will set its minimum cocoa price for farmers at between 750 and 800 CFA francs ($1.38-$1.47) per kilogramme for the 2017/18 main crop, higher than previously indicated, sources said.
The West African nation was hit hard by a sharp drop in world prices last season, which forced it to slash the farmer price by 36 percent to 700 CFA francs a kilogramme in March.
The minimum price is based on the average price the anticipated crop garners during forward sales, and the Coffee and Cocoa Council (CCC) had initially recommended to the government a range of 700 to 750 CFA francs.
However, President Alassane Ouattara gave orders to increase that price range, the sources at the marketing board and prime minister’s office said on Wednesday.
“The instructions from the president are clear. The price gap with Ghana must be as small as possible,” the CCC source said.
Neighbouring Ghana is expected to maintain its price levels from this season, raising fears that the resulting price difference could provoke large-scale smuggling of Ivorian beans into the world’s No. 2 producer.
The government was due to announce Ivory Coast’s guaranteed price after a cabinet meeting later on Wednesday. The 2017/18 cocoa season opens on Oct. 1. ($1 = 543.3800 CFA francs) (Reporting by Ange Aboa, writing by Joe Bavier, editing by Louise Heavens and Susan Fenton)