• Farmers reporting output decline of as much as 70 percent
  • Cocoa crop hurt by prolonged dry spell early this year

Nigeria’s cocoa midcrop output is seen falling by as much as 70 percent this year from the previous season after unfavorable weather took a toll on the crop earlier in 2016, farmers said.

“This season’s midcrop harvest is the worst we have witnessed in the last 25 years,” Rufus Orosundafosi, a cocoa farmer, said by phone from the southwest cocoa-growing hub of Idanre that accounts for about 25 percent of the country’s production. “We will not get up to 30 percent of last year’s midcrop yield.”

Output for the midcrop from Orosundafosi’s 120 hectare farm in Idanre fell to 60 tons this year from its average of 370 tons in previous years. A similar trend is being reported across Nigeria’s southwest, which produces about two-thirds of the country’s cocoa, according to Raimi Adetunji, president of the Cocoa Farmers Association of Nigeria.

Nigeria’s two cocoa harvests include the smaller midcrop from April to June, and the main crop from October to December. The midcrop normally accounts for about a third of the country’s output. A prolonged dry spell early this year hurt the development of buds for the midcrop, according to farmers.

Nigeria is the world’s biggest cocoa producer after Ivory Coast, Ghana and Indonesia, with a government-estimated output of 350,000 tons in the 2013-14 season. The International Cocoa Organization estimates Nigeria’s output at 240,000 tons for the same period.

Year-on-year exports declined continually through the midcrop season, according to figures compiled by ports and shipping companies’ agents in the country’s main port of Lagos. Shipments fell 12 percent in April, 31 percent in May and 65 percent in June, the figures showed.

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