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Nigeria’s cocoa output to decline as heavy rain threatens crop

Nigeria’s cocoa output is likely to fall by at least 12.5 percent next season as late and heavy rains threaten to damage the main crop and raise the risk of disease, the president of the country’s cocoa industry association said.

Mufutau Abolarinwa told Reuters that output for the October 2021 to September 2022 season is expected to decline to 280,000 tonnes, well below the 320,000 tonnes it estimates Nigeria, the world’s fifth biggest cocoa grower, will produce this season.

The late rain will delay the October to February main crop, which could extend further into next year.

“The main crop will be in the region of between 250,000 tonnes to 260,000 tonnes because of the weather issue and the late rainfall,” Abolarinwa said.

Farmers are spraying their trees to prevent insects from destroying the pods, he said, adding that they are worried about flowers on the tree being blown away and that overly heavy rains could increase the risk of black pod disease.

However, some farmers are expecting that the main crop will be better than the current 2020/21 mid-crop, which typically runs from April or May to September.

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“The trees are flowering and with a good amount of pods,” Neji Abang, a farmer in the Cross Rivers, Nigeria’s second biggest growing region, said by phone.

Abolarinwa said Nigeria’s mid-crop is estimated at 25,000 tonnes in the current year, half of the usual output in the period, when weather conditions are good and chemicals readily available to spray any diseased tree.

“There’s going to be a drop because of the weather. Between May and June, it was dry season,” he said, adding that bean count for the mid-crop was between 270 grams and 290 grams.

Abolarinwa said demand for beans was recovering in Europe, the Americas and Asia as economies re-open due to the ramp-up of COVID-19 inoculations.

But trading house were offering a discount of between 160 pounds to 180 pounds ($247.99) to the market price for the mid-crop.

With demand returning, local inspectors are working with farmers and exporters on bean quality to try to boost the grade of Nigeria’s cocoa exports, he said.

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