ABIDJAN, May 30 (Reuters) - Ivory Coast cashew processors are seeking 60,000 metric tons of raw cashew nuts to meet targets and ensure normal operations at under-supplied factories, they said on Thursday, after a meeting with the agriculture minister and the regulator.

Already the world's largest cocoa producer, the country has emerged as a leading grower of cashew nuts but only a fraction of the nuts are processed locally as firms face steep competition from deeper-pocketed Asian exporters.

Earlier in May, the ministry suspended exporters' purchases and exports of raw cashew nuts to allow local processors to supply their factories, but the move came too late, said four directors of processing firms, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"When the suspension measure was taken, export companies had already bought all the available cashew nuts. The problem is still there and unresolved," said one director.

"We still need more than 60,000 tons of nuts to operate and secure our activities," said another director, who said he had attended a meeting on Wednesday to discuss the abiding supply issues with the minister and the Cotton and Cashew Council regulator (CCA).

Export companies with stocks have agreed to sell 30,000 tons of raw cashews to local processors to make up for the shortfall, four exporters and a ministry source told Reuters.

"Unfortunately, our measure did not solve the problem, and the export companies are willing to sell 30,000 tonnes to processors. This is good, even if it is insufficient," the ministry source said.

But local processors said the price offered was higher than the usual factory gate price and want the regulator to ask for the factory price to be used for these sales.

The price asked by exporters in Abidjan and San Pedro, where the stocks are located, is 455-485 CFA francs ($0.75- $0.80) per kg depending on the place of delivery, said a third director of a processing company established in Korhogo, in the north of the country.

"These prices are therefore 95 to 115 CFA francs per kilo more expensive than the market price in Korhogo and 80 to 100 CFA francs more expensive than the market price in Bouaké. Who will pay this extra cost that exporters are demanding?" asked a fourth processor based in Yamoussoukro in the centre of the country.

Four export companies told Reuters they could not lower their selling prices as they are at a break-even point. ($1 = 603.0000 CFA francs) (Editing by Alessandra Prentice and Sriraj Kalluvila)