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Early Rainfall To Boost Nigeria Cocoa Mid-crop

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Nigeria’s mid-crop cocoa output for 2017/18 could rise by 15 percent
from last season, helped by a mix of rainfall and sunshine in the main
growing regions which has helped the trees, the head of the cocoa
association said on Friday.

Drought cut last season’s mid-crop harvest by 40 percent. The dry weather continued into the main crop of the new season.
Sayina
Riman, president of the Cocoa Association of Nigeria (CAN), said the
drought affected the trees, reducing output of between 300,000 tonnes
and 320,000 tonnes projected at the beginning of the 2017/18 season. 
Early
rains in March and April has helped boost the mid-crop, which could see
the season’s output close at around 290,000 tonnes, Riman said, who
farms on a 170 hectare cocoa plantation in Nigeria’s second-biggest
region of Cross Rivers. 
Another farmer said he had experienced
harmattan winds last year which dried up cocoa trees and that he thought
the weather pattern would continue into the mid-crop season. 
The
cocoa season in Nigeria runs from October to September, with an
October-to-February main crop and a smaller light or mid-crop that
begins in April or May and runs through September. 
“Despite
the drought of last year which affected cocoa we believe we would be
close to 290,000 tonnes for 2017/18 season,” Riman told Reuters. 
The
International Cocoa Organization (ICCO), however, gives much lower
estimates of Nigerian cocoa output. It forecast last season’s production
at 225,000 tonnes. 
Riman did not give a reason for the
discrepancy. Nigerian government production figures are also
significantly higher than ICCO estimates. 
Nigeria has recently
emerged from recession and a currency crisis which caused a chronic
dollar shortage, forcing exporters to under-invoice their goods in order
to use the foreign exchange black market to get premium for their hard
currency. 
The
action caused the West African country slip to the sixth producer of
cocoa in the world at the peak of the crisis. Riman said Nigeria was
getting back to number four grower as exporters now use the official
currency markets. 
Riman said Nigeria was working on improving its
bean quality especially with renewed demand from Europe. However, bean
count, a measure of the number of beans needed to produce 100 grams of
cocoa, reached as high as 140 for the main crop. (Reuters)

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