This past season, West Africa produced a record of 3.1 million tons of cocoa. However, it is unlikely that the region will produce the same high yield next season.
“We’re expecting a total crop of around 1.6 million tons in Côte d’Ivoire. We’re expecting a slightly larger crop in Ghana of around 950 thousand tons and we’re expecting Nigeria to grow by the strongest of any cocoa producer in the world,” said Edward George, head of group research at Ecobank.
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Nigeria’s cocoa production target is at 400,000 tons, however, it is predicted that they will only produce 300,000 tons. This is largely because of the amount of time it will take for the cocoa trees to come into full production.
“The Nigerian government has a program to distribute 3.6 million high yielding trees, and this program is well underway. But they don’t start baring their full capacity in the first or second year and that’s why it’s unlikely they’re going to hit this target.”
In the next five to ten years many believe that Nigeria will become one of the most important cocoa producers in the world.
“Remember it’s not just cocoa, there’s a revolution going on in the agriculture sector in Nigeria. What I would really like to see in Nigeria is the setting up of a fiscal regime which makes it attractive to process cocoa in Nigeria so that Nigeria is not just exporting it raw to the global market.”
George says fears of Ebola spreading to West Africa have not influenced the price of cocoa.
“There have been jitters in the market about Ebola and certainly some of the recent strength in prices has come from that but to be perfectly honest, I don’t think the market is pricing in an outbreak of Ebola in the key producing regions in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.”
George said that the reason cocoa has been above 3000 dollars a ton is because of the strong demand. However, due to the strong harvest he predicts that the demand will decrease.