Cocobod to cut crop forecast on dry winds

Business News of Friday, 9 January 2015

Source: Bloomberg

Cocoa  Sustained

Ghana, the world’s second-biggest cocoa producer, is expecting output of 820,000 metric tons of cocoa this season as hot, dry winds reduce the potential crop by as much as 9 percent from assessments made in November, a person familiar with the government forecast said.

The forecast conveyed by the person, who asked not to be identified because the information has not been made public, compares with the estimate of 850,000 tons to 900,000 tons disclosed by Noah Amenyah, spokesman for the state-owned Ghana Cocoa Board on Nov. 18. As recently as October Stephen Opuni, chief executive officer of the board, said the crop in the season that will end on Sept. 30 would exceed 1 million tons.

The seasonal wind, known as the Harmattan, blows dusty, dry air from the Sahara desert across the world’s biggest cocoa-growing areas in countries including Nigeria and Ghana in December and January. In addition to cutting rainfall the Harmattan can cause cocoa trees to lose many of the flowers that turn into pods.

Last month central and northern areas of Ghana got as little as 10 percent of normal rainfall for this time of year, while Nigeria saw 20 percent to 30 percent of its average, Donald Keeney, a meteorologist with MDA Weather Services said on Dec. 30.

The main crop season, which lasts from October to May, will see 780,000 tons being reaped while the so-called light crop, harvested between June and August, will yield 40,000 tons, the person said.

So far this season purchases from farmers by the board are about 10 percent lower than last year. The country reaped about 920,000 tons last season, the International Cocoa Organisation said in September.

Cocoa for March delivery rose 0.7 percent to 2,014 a ton as of 9:33 a.m. in London, extending its gain over the last 12 months to 21 percent.