The President of the Cocoa Association of Nigeria, Mufutau Abolarinwa, says the country’s cocoa output will likely fall by 20 percent this season.
According to Abolarinwa, output for the last 2019/20 season declined to an estimated 250,000 tonnes, lower than the International Cocoa Organization’s forecast of 260,000 tonnes.
News Central reports that the association previously estimated last season’s output at 305,000 tonnes.
He blamed the potential decreased output on measures aimed at curbing the spread of the novel coronavirus and drier weather increase the chances of a poor harvest.
Nigeria, the world’s fifth biggest cocoa grower, has been hurt by lockdown measures initiated to slow the spread of the outbreak as farmers have been unable to import inputs, while drier weather has hindered pod formation, Abolarinwa said.
The statistics office reports that the pandemic could cause agricultural yields to fall due to the limited access to inputs for crop production.
“We are expecting a poor harvest by November,” Abolarinwa, a cocoa exporter, said. He added export volumes have also fallen.
Cocoa trees need a delicate balance of rain and dry weather. Too little rain and they wither; too much and they become susceptible to insects or fungal black pod disease. Beans can also go mouldy if small farmers are unable to dry them outside.
Abolarinwa said scant rainfall between April and June helped the bean count to rise to 270 grams from 230 grams, but was not sufficient to boost new pod formation.
Farmers have started an early harvest for the main crop in anticipation that rainfall might improve before November, the peak of the harvest, said cocoa analyst Robo Adhuse.