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Ghana Cocoa Target in Reach as Rains Curb Dry Wind Impact

Ghana’s cocoa-industry regulator expects to achieve its harvest target of 800,000 metric tons this season after weather patterns improved in November and December, said Deputy Chief Executive Officer Yaw Adu-Ampomah.

“The rains delayed but have come in,” he said in an interview in Accra, the capital, on Dec. 20. “We could replicate last season’s performance, the difference is not significant,” he said, citing reports to the Ghana Cocoa Board from farms. He declined to give figures.

Cocoa output, Ghana’s third-biggest export, fell 21 percent to 347,000 tons in the season to Dec. 6, according to KnowledgeCharts, a unit of Commodities Risk Analysis in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. After reaching a record of more than 1 million tons in the 2010-11 crop season, production slowed and the board cut its outlook for the current harvest on concern of poor weather.

“The season was bad from the beginning, but in the last three weeks the rains have been good,” Theophilus Agyare Asare, general manager of operations at Akuafo Adamfo Marketing Co., the second-biggest cocoa buyer, said by phone on Dec. 21.

“We are improving and catching up with our figures from last year,” he said. The Kumasi, Ashanti region-based company bought 14 percent of the national total last season and has targeted 15 percent for 2012-13, Asare said.

Harmattan Coming

“There is enough soil moisture, but the dryness of the harmattan is coming,” said Charles York, principal meteorologist at the Ghana Meteorological Agency, in an interview in the capital, Accra. The harmattan brings dry, dusty wind from the Sahara desert over southern West Africa, including Ivory Coast and Ghana, the world’s biggest cocoa growers.

In Bogoso, a cocoa-growing town in the Western region which accounts for 55 percent of national production, 33 millimeters (1.3 inches) of rain was recorded in the first 10 days of December from 70 millimeters in the preceding 10 days, according to the weather agency. In Kumasi, the capital of Ashanti where 18 percent of total output is grown, rainfall was 42 millimeters in the last 10 days of November and about 58 millimeters in early December.

While Adu-Ampomah said production would benefit “if we get at least two major rains in January,” York said that’s unlikely.

Southern Ghana, which includes cocoa-growing regions such as Western and Ashanti, “has a very low probability of high rains between now and February,” he said.

March delivery cocoa declined for a fourth day, falling 0.8 percent to 1,457 ($2,358) by 11:06 a.m. on the NYSE Liffe market in London.

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