Cocoa output by farmers in Nigeria, the world’s fourth-largest producer, may rise by as much as 40 percent at the end of the light-crop season in August on favorable weather, an industry group said.
The cocoa harvest is forecast to be as much as 35,000 metric tons compared with 25,000 tons last year, Robo Adhuze, spokesman for the Cocoa Association of Nigeria, said yesterday by phone in Akure, in the western part of the country. Early rains and sunshine are expected to boost production, he said.
“The rain is stable, which helped to reduce fungi diseases,” Adhuze said. “Farmers have seen a good light crop with bean weight of 270 to 290 grams, compared with 220 grams last year.”
Nigeria’s cocoa year is divided into two harvests. The main-crop season begins in October and ends in January, while the light-crop season, the smaller of the two, usually begins in April and ends in June. The start and end dates of the two seasons may vary each year depending on the weather.
The mid-crop may last longer this year because of the early rains, Adhuze said. “By the end of August farmers may enter the main crop harvest and if the rains remain favorable, output for the main crop may reach 300,000 to 320,000 tons from 250,000 last year,” he said.
A warning by the nation’s meteorological agency for heavy rains in the second half of this year “has prompted farmers to equip their farms with chemicals against pests and diseases,” to manage the situation, he said.
Many cocoa farms were submerged in water last year, leading to high humidity and destruction of crops by black pod, a fungal disease, Adhuze said.
Nigeria ranks behind Ivory Coast, Ghana and Indonesia as the world’s largest cocoa producer, according to the London-based International Cocoa Organization.
Cocoa exports are the biggest foreign-currency earner after oil for Nigeria, Africa’s leading crude producer and most populous nation, according to figures published by the government.