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February 01, 2011

Ghana boosts cocoa purchases from farmers as crop output grows

Ghana, the world’s second-biggest cocoa producer, purchased 643,000 metric tons of beans from farmers so far this season as better weather and increased use of pesticide and fertilizer boost production.

The amount for the 15 weeks of the season to Jan. 13 is higher than the last crop period, said Noah Amenyah, spokesman for the Ghana Cocoa Board. He declined to provide comparative figures.

A higher fixed price for cocoa offered to farmers this season has curbed smuggling to neighboring Ivory Coast, the world’s top grower of the chocolate ingredient, Amenyah said. At the October start of the harvest, the price per ton was raised by a third to 3,200 cedis ($2,059). In the 2009-10 harvest, Ghana lost 100,000 tons of beans in the illegal trade.

Ivory Coast’s cocoa farmers have not reversed the smuggling path even as a post-election crisis in that country sparked fears of a disruption in supplies of the beans.

“We have not had any smuggled beans from Ivory Coast since November when somebody was caught attempting to bring in beans through the Elubo border in the Western region,” Amenyah said.

On Jan. 23, Alassane Ouattara, the internationally recognized winner of the Nov. 28 election, told cocoa shippers in Ivory Coast to halt exports for a month. Laurent Gbagbo, the incumbent leader who refuses to cede power to Ouattara, warned that exporters risk “sanctions” if they go along with the ban, Ahoua Don Mello, his adviser, said Jan 24.

March-delivery cocoa rose to its highest in a year today, adding $7, or 0.2 percent, to $3,359 per metric ton by 1:56 p.m. in New York.

The Ghanaian board, which oversees cocoa in the country, worked with local security forces to increase patrols along the border, Amenyah said. They have also added more staff to monitor the quality of Ghana’s beans in the west of the country. Ghana shares a border of 668 kilometers (415 miles) with Ivory Coast and its Western region is the top growing area.

Bloomberg

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