Cocoa Shipment Delays Worry Buyers

The International Cocoa Organisation (ICCO) has warned of an emerging declining production trend in Ghana should structural factors responsible for the reduction in production continue to persist.

The organization has also raised concerns over the prospects for a full recovery owing to the fact that the reasons behind the fall in Ghana remain unclear.

It has downgraded by 22 percent Ghana’s cocoa output for 2014-2015.

The estimate for the Ghana crop – the world’s second biggest – was slashed by 114,000 tonnes to 696,000 tonnes, representing 22 percent slump year on year.

The organisation is the latest to raise concern about Ghana’s output.

Manufacturers and traders in the cocoa industry have also been complaining about Ghana’s disappointing crop season.

The International Cocoa Organisation (ICCO) says it is yet to get a definitive explanation for the shortfall even though factors like strong Harmattan winds, inadequate rainfall, late application of fertilizers and the curtailment of a government spraying programme have been cited as hurting production in Ghana.

It noted that cocoa farming in the country has over the years been increasingly competing with the mining industry for land, water resources and labour. This phenomenon, it said, may have been exacerbated this season, following the lower producer price offered to Ghanaian farmers during the previous season.

The Financial Times reported in May that bad weather, pests and smuggling prompted COCOBOD to revise down crop estimates by 15 percent in April, but traders and analysts indicated that the shortfall could be closer to a third of the 1 million tonnes Ghana was expected to produce in 2014-2015, as large prepaid deliveries of the beans have not showed up.

Ghana’s output normally accounts for about 20 percent of global production and the ongoing development is expected to render prices volatile until there is clarity.

International industry executives are frustrated with the development.

COCOBOD has refused to explain what is happening to international traders who complain that Ghana had oversold cocoa beans by 200,000 tonnes.

‘Nobody knows who will be getting the cocoa,’ one trader said.

At the cocoa week celebration in London recently, Ghanaian output was mostly discussed.

The uncertainty surrounding delayed cocoa supplies from Ghana has already pushed the cocoa price up above 10 percent since late April to a seven month high of almost £2,090 per tonnes.

Traders are also paying higher premiums for immediate delivery of Ghana cocoa as they scramble to source the beans.

(Pix saved as cocoa farmers in bus)

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