Cocoa production output for the 2013/2014 season is expected to be below expected benchmark globally due to the weather, stakeholders have said. The International Cocoa Organisation had in August made a forecast that there would be a world surplus of 40,000 tonnes for the season after it previously predicted a deficit of 75,000 tonnes. In Nigeria, which is the fourth largest producer, the estimate was 305, 000 metric tonnes which the Cocoa Association of Nigeria had earlier said would be reduced to an actual production output of less than 300,000 metric tonnes due to the outbreak of the black pod disease within the year .
However, the Chief Operating Officer at the Centre for Cocoa Development Initiative and spokesperson for Cocoa Association of Nigeria, Mr. Robo Adhuze, in an interview with our correspondent said production would further depreciate due to the harsh weather. He said, “From what we see around us, the quantity that is coming out is not much; it is very dry. The weather is dry. For more than 60 days plus now we have had rain, even the flowers are withering away and it is a big challenge for us. “It is no longer feasible to meet the target but it is not only in Nigeria, it is a global thing according to information we got from other producing countries. They made us to understand that 2014 production will generally drop due to the extreme dry weather.”
Adhuze said the devaluation of the naira was also playing a major role, adding that the prices of chemicals for planting of the cocoa seed had gone up. “We are rather suffering from the devaluation because all chemicals for planting are imported, what was selling for N200 before now sells for N230 without any commensurate rise in price. The farmers have also adjusted to the price of chemicals so the local market has made changes in prices. So even if the exchange is high, the price of import is higher so it obliterates the gain, but we are still watching the weather,” he stated.
The Chief Executive Officer, Spectra Industries Limited, a cocoa processing company, Mr. Duro Kuteyi, said the Small and Medium Enterprises in the cocoa value chain were recording losses already. He said, “Everything is getting tighter for the SMEs with the downturn. When we negotiated loans, it was based on certain value but by the time it was approved, naira had been devalued. “Those who are importing raw materials are bearing the brunt, their prices will go up but the market cannot absorb, there will be a revolt.” He added that those who exported raw cocoa seeds might be favoured but those who processed would continue to record losses until the naira stabilised.