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October 07, 2012

Nigerian cocoa output forecast to go up by 20 percent in 2012/13 season

by Vincent Nwanma

Cocoa output from Nigeria, the world’s fourth-biggest producer, may rise by as much as 20 percent in the season that started on October 1 as new farms begin production, an industry group said.

Cocoa trees planted four to five years ago in western, eastern and midwestern regions of Nigeria will begin to bear fruits in the 2012-13 season and raise the country’s output to at least 300,000 metric tons
from 250,000 tons last year, Robo Adhuze, spokesman for the Cocoa Association of Nigeria, said by phone today in Akure in the southwestern state of Ondo.

“In the past five years, Nigeria has done so much to raise output, and what we are seeing now is the result of that,” Adhuze said. The government encouraged farmers to expand their farms, replace old trees
and also taught them good practices, he said. Last year, eight new varieties of cocoa, with shorter maturity periods and higher yields per hectare, were introduced, he said.

Ondo state, the biggest producer, is expected to increase output to 90,000 tons from less than 77,000 tons last year, Adhuze said, adding production should also rise in Cross River and Edo.

Flooding in parts of Nigeria including Kogi, Edo and Cross River states is causing “anxiety” among the farmers, Adhuze said. “It means that output of cocoa from these states could be affected,” he said.

Flooding worsened after gates on hydro electric dams on the country’s biggest river, the Niger, were opened to prevent them from collapsing under pressure from “high-intensity rains,” said Anthony Anuforo, director-general of the Nigerian Meteorological Agency.

Nigeria ranks behind the Ivory Coast, Ghana and Indonesia in cocoa production, according to the International Cocoa Organization. Shipments of the beans represent the second- biggest foreign exchange earner for Nigeria, Africa’s leading oil producer, according to government figures. 

Nigeria’s cocoa year is divided into two harvests with the main one beginning in October and ending in January, while the smaller crop usually begins in March and ends in June.


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