Nigeria’s Hot, Dry Weather Causes Underweight Midcrop Cocoa

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A prolonged dry spell in Nigeria’s main cocoa-growing areas has caused a poor yield in the country’s midcrop, with most of the beans below the exportable weight, farmers and traders said.

“The rains came for only one day in the last six weeks,” Joseph Ajiboye, chairman of Ekiti Cocoa Farmers Association, said by phone from the state capital, Ado Ekiti. “The pods are not mature enough.”

Farmers who have started harvesting their crop are finding beans either malformed or weighing from 180 grams to 200 grams (6.4 to 7 ounces) for every 300 beans, he said. Cocoa grown with adequate rain and moisture produces beans weighing 250 grams to 260 grams for every 300 beans for the midcrop, which begins in April and ends in June in Nigeria. The main crop is harvested from October to December.

The West African nation is the world’s fourth-biggest producer of the chocolate ingredient after Ivory Coast, Ghana and Indonesia. Nigeria produced 350,000 metric tons of cocoa in the 2013-2014 season, with the midcrop estimated at 66,000 tons, according to the Agriculture Ministry. The International Cocoa Organization assessed Nigeria’s production for that season at 240,000 tons.

Deliveries at warehouses run by cocoa-exporting company, Saro Agro Ltd. in Lagos, the main port city, have counts of 210 grams to 220 grams per 300 beans, Kunle Ogunyimika, the warehouse manager, said in a phone interview. “Most such beans are not exportable as they are too flat and will surely disappear in grinding,” he said.

Cocoa fell to $3,080 per ton as of 12:54 p.m. in London, down for the first time in seven days.

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