By Obafemi Oredein
IBADAN, Nigeria – Production of the main 2022-23 cocoa is weak at the start of the season in Nigeria’s biggest cocoa growing region, traders and exporters said on Monday.
“We (traders, exporters) are concerned about the low volume of cocoa on the market in the South West region now, especially when the main cocoa harvest started in the region over a month ago,” said Niyi Ojelabi, a trader.
Harvesting of the main crop extends from September to January and February and could end in March when the rains continue.
He said rainfall which has not diminished in the region has hampered the harvest of cocoa, adding that farmers do not want to harvest cocoa which they cannot dry due to a lack of adequate sunshine in the area to dry the bean.
Mr Ojelabi said the annual rainy season which started in the southwest in May is expected to end in October while sunny weather is expected to start from next month when the dry season sets in.
He said traders had more cocoa to sell in September and October last year than they did at the same time this year due to the current bad weather.
Meanwhile, the Cocoa Association of Nigeria said the 2022-23 main cocoa harvest is expected to continue through January and February and there will be good results thanks to prolonged rainfall, the president of CAN, Muftau Abolarinwa.
The southwestern region includes the five cocoa producing states of Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ekiti and Ondo. The region accounts for 70% of the country’s annual cocoa production of 250,000 tonnes to 280,000 tonnes, according to trade groups in the country.