Nigeria’s cocoa farmers and exporters have earned about N179 billion from export of raw cocoa beans in 2018, according to data obtained by BusinessDay from the International Cocoa Association (ICCO).
The average price of cocoa for 2018 season was $2,294 per Metric Ton, and Nigeria’s production for the period was put at 255,000MT by the international organisation.
Nigeria exports 85 percent of its annual cocoa produce. This means that 85 percent of 255,000MT is equal to 216,750MT. Multiplying by the average price of $2,294 is equal to $497million (N179 billion).
“We would have earned far that what we did. We had good midcrop season in 2018 but the main crop season was badly affected by the flooding of last year and farmers were unable to dry their crops,” Sayina Rima, president, Cocoa Farmers Association told BusinessDay from his Ikom Farm in South-South region.
Rima stated that high yielding lowlands where taking over by last year floods which cut the country’s production for the period.
The ICCO also predicted that the country’s 2018/2019 season will dip by 10,000MT.
Stakeholders in the industry attributed the decline in the 2018/2019 prediction by the international agency to extreme weather conditions that could manifest its self in crop failures, pest and diseases outbreak and degradation of land.
“I believe that ICCO prediction of a lower cocoa output for Nigeria in 2018/2019 season is as a result of weather issues,” Rima added.
The Nigerian Metrological Services (NiMET) had earlier in 2019 predicted late onset of rainfall and early cessation of rainfall in most parts of the country.
Nigeria has two cocoa harvests which include the smaller midcrop from April to June, and the main crop from October to December.
The main crop normally accounts for 70 percent of Nigeria’s cocoa output while the midcrop accounts for the remaining percentage.
Africa’s most populous nation now ranks fourth with 255, 000 metric tons production in the 2017/2018 cocoa season, ICCO data states.
Similarly, experts identified ageing cocoa trees and limited use of pesticides as other major factors responsible for the prediction of a fall in the country’s 2018/2019 estimates.
“The preponderance of very old tree stocks with most over 30 years results in low yields, often less than 400 kg and ha and vulnerable to pest infestation,” said Peter Aikpokpodion, an expert in cocoa improvement and value chain development.
“Limited use of pesticides to control black pod disease at the right time and recommended rates also lead to severe loss of yield on the farm. A recent field visit shows that the cocoa swollen shoot virus (CSSV) disease which is a major yield-limiting disease, has become a significant constraint that needs urgent attention,” Aikpokpodion said.
Currently, farmers in major cocoa growing regions are harvesting for the midcrop season which has commenced since late March.
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