Bloomberg News

Nigerian Cocoa Crop Threatened by Chemicals Shortage, Group Says

June 08, 2011

June 8 (Bloomberg) -- Cocoa output in Nigeria, the fourth- largest producer of the beans, may be reduced by a shortage of the chemicals needed to spray farms against disease, an industry group said.

“We are expecting an increase in the harvest this year because the weather is favorable,” Neji Abang Neji, secretary- general of the Cocoa Association of Nigeria, which represents farmers, traders and processors, said by phone today from Akure in western Nigeria. “But if farmers do not spray their farms, black pod disease will overrun them.”

The level of rainfall this year in the cocoa-growing areas has been good, and as rains increase farmers have come “under pressure to spray their farms,” Neji said. Black pod, a fungus, thrives in wet conditions.

Nigerian farmers use Syngenta AG’s Ridomil, a fungicide, to protect cocoa against black pod, and the importer was late to place orders for the product, Neji said. Emmanuel Ajayi, chief executive officer of Biostadt Nigeria Ltd., previously known as Syngenta Nigeria, said the product has arrived and is being cleared at ports.

“We targeted June arrival and the farmers will have whatever quantity they need soon,” Ajayi said today by phone from Calabar in southern Nigeria.

Cocoa-bean exports from Nigeria rose to 200,333 metric tons in 2010, from 195,885 tons a year earlier, according to figures from the Federal Produce Inspection Services, a government agency that supervises cocoa exports. Shipments of the beans represent the second-biggest foreign exchange earner for Nigeria, Africa’s leading oil producer, according to government figures.

Two Harvests

Nigeria ranks behind the Ivory Coast, Ghana and Indonesia as the world’s largest cocoa producer, according to the website of the International Cocoa Organization.

Nigeria’s cocoa year is divided into two harvests. The main-crop harvest begins in October and ends in January, while the light-crop season, the smaller of the two, usually begins in March and ends in June. Farmers spray their land between May and June, Ajayi said, as part of preparations for the new crop year.

--Editors: John Deane, Dan Weeks

To contact the reporter on this story: Vincent Nwanma in Lagos at nvwanma@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net


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