A record crop in biggest producer Ivory Coast helped push the cocoa market into a surplus in the 2016-17 season. Prices tumbled and are headed for a second annual decline.
With the 2017-18 season now well underway, all eyes are on the main crop, the larger of two yearly harvests that runs from October through March. Now is a crucial time as the harvest’s at its peak. The Harmattan, dry desert winds from the Sahara, usually blow from December to February and can have a big impact on crops in Ivory Coast and neighbouring Ghana.
Ivory Coast’s cocoa regulator, Le Conseil du Cafe Cacao, has increased its forecast for the 2017-18 main crop harvest to 1.4 million to 1.45 million tons from a previous 1.35 million tons, a person familiar with the matter said last week.
Good rains in the past few months mean that production will probably be higher than anticipated for the second part of the main crop, starting in January, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the projection hasn’t been made public. The forecast assumes that the Harmattan remains mild and doesn’t damage cocoa pods.
After heavy rains in October and November, the Harmattan is now underway in most of the cocoa-growing regions. But it’s been mild so far and it’s often mixed with light rains, said Joseph Gueu, a farmer near Danane in the west of the country. That’s unusual for this time of year. Output has been good so far and young pods are growing well, he said.
Not everyone is so positive though. Too much rain has resulted in brown rot on many pods and reduced production said Alassane Sogodogo, who manages a cooperative near the Liberian border. The rain also damaged roads in the area, making it difficult to send cocoa to the port. The weather has since improved, he said.
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