Poor early rains affecting Nigeria's cocoa output

Poor early rains affecting Nigeria's cocoa output

Sunday, February 22, 2015 10:34 am

A cocoa tree with fruit pods in various stages of ripening. Photo: Wikipedia

A cocoa tree with fruit pods in various stages of ripening. Photo: Wikipedia

Nigeria’s midcrop cocoa harvest is threatened by sparse rains and a heat wave in the main producing region in the southwest, a farmers’ group has told Bloomberg, an international business medium.

Nigeria’s two cocoa harvests include the main crop from October to December, and the smaller midcrop from April to June, estimated at 66,000 metric tons in the 2013-14 season. Most of the country’s output is from farmers working on small plots in the southern cocoa belt, Bloomberg’s Tolani Awere said.

According to the medium, two “scanty showers” in January were inadequate to create the moisture needed by the trees for flowering and fruiting, Adeniyi Adegoke, coordinator of the Ondo State Cocoa Farmers Association, said by phone Thursday from the cocoa-trading town of Akure.

The southwest of Nigeria accounts for about 70 percent in the output of the country, which is the world’s number four producer after Ivory Coast, Ghana and Indonesia. The West African nation produced 350,000 metric tons of cocoa in the 2013-2014 season, according to the Agriculture Ministry. The International Cocoa Organization assessed Nigeria’s production for that season at 240,000 tons.

In Oyo state, which is experiencing similar weather, “flowers have started to dry out and fall as a result,” Joseph Ojedeji, who leads the state’s cocoa farmers’ association, said by phone from the city of Ibadan.

The current weather, dictated by north-south winds from across the Sahara Desert, will probably continue until the end of March, John Chigbu, head of the Meteorological Office in Lagos, the commercial capital, said in an interview in his office. By then rain-bearing, south-west winds from the Atlantic Ocean are expected to become dominant, leading to more showers.

In the southeastern cocoa-growing area around the town of Ikom that produces about 30 percent of Nigeria’s crop, the rains have been more frequent, leaving trees with adequate moisture, Femi Iwaloye, a manager at Saro Agro Ltd., a cocoa exporter, told Bloomberg.

Join The Conversation

What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.