Nigerian Cocoa Farmers Start Getting Fungicide as Shortages May Hurt Crop

Nigeria’s cocoa producers may begin using deliveries of fungicides to tackle diseases such as black pod next week after the arrival of shipments of the chemicals, amid a shortage that threatens effective treatment of the crop.

“It’s being delivered,” Robo Adhuze, a spokesman for the Cocoa Association of Nigeria, said by phone yesterday from Akure in the west of the country. “The farmers may not be able to use the chemical until next week” and the lack of access by most may still “reduce the crop due to loss to black pod attacks.”

Cocoa is the second-biggest foreign-exchange earner for Nigeria, Africa’s leading oil producer, government figures show. Exports of beans in 2010 rose 2.3 percent to 200,333 metric tons, according to data from the Federal Produce Inspection Services, a government agency that supervises the shipments.

Emmanuel Ajayi, chief executive officer of Biostadt Nigeria Ltd., the importer of Syngenta AG (SYNN)’s Ridomil fungicide, said the delivery of 30,000 kilograms of the chemical and another 20,000 kilograms expected to arrive aren’t sufficient to meet demand.

“Nigeria needs a minimum of 200,000 kilograms a year,” he said by phone yesterday from Gombe, in the north.

Ridomil distributed by the Ghana government to its farmers is smuggled to Nigeria and sold below local prices, discouraging importers from competing, Adhuze said.

“Importers were wary of bringing in the chemicals because of losses they incurred in the past as a result of supplies from Ghana,” he said. “Ghana has tightened its borders. This year anybody that imports the chemical will sell everything because, although the Ghanaian supply still trickles in, it is reduced.”

Nigeria ranks behind the Ivory Coast, Ghana and Indonesia among the world’s largest producers, according to the website of the International Cocoa Organization. Nigeria’s cocoa year is divided into two harvests. The main crop begins in October and ends in January, while the light-crop season, the smaller of the two, usually begins in March and ends in June.

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