Vocational training -
Operation Nawa 2, the fifth swoop of its kind since 2009, mobilised about 100 men from the security forces, police and paramilitary gendarmes over two days, said Luc Zaka, deputy director of the criminal police.
A team of journalists, including those from AFP, was able to follow the police in the Meagui area, 50 kilometres (30 miles) from Soubre.
The convoy of half a dozen 4x4s preceded by a motorbike rider drove along a reddish clay track that wound between the green fields of cocoa and rubber trees.
Regularly, the convoy stopped. Children were sometimes surprised along the path, returning from the field with their machetes, sometimes in hamlets tending to the heaps of cocoa beans drying in front of the houses.
Police officers also roamed the fields to flush out children in the plantations.
Some of the youngsters were caught only after a chase, but after four hours of activity, a dozen children and adolescents were taken in.
They were driven to the Children's Reception Centre in Soubre, which opened in 2018.
Like Issouf, the under-age workers were heard and sensitised by social workers and psychologists.
Their parents were due to pick them up the next day, after a discussion with the police and centre officials.
In serious cases of forced labour or child abuse, young people stay at the reception centre for a few months.
Many are illiterate. They can go back to school and learn a trade, such as cattle raising, market gardening, sewing, hairdressing and ironwork.
Apart from the swoops by police, regular work is carried out in the countryside by local child protection committees.
- 'Legal arsenal' -
"Mediation with families is very important," said Lath Mel, who sees "progress" in the fight against child labour.
According to the NORC survey, the school enrolment rate of children in cocoa farming families has improved significantly, from 59 percent in 2008-09 to 85 percent in 2018-19.
In contrast, a a 2020 study by the CCC, the state-run body that oversees Ivory Coast's coffee and cocoa sectors, only 71 percent of children aged five to 17 were enrolled in school.
About 2,000 children have been taken out of cocoa plantations since 2019, according to the National Surveillance Committee (CNS), which aims at combatting child labour and trafficking
Ivory Coast has in the past 10 years built a "legal arsenal" to punish child slavery and trafficking, said Soubre public prosecutor Alexandre Kone.