By Obafemi Oredein
Special for Dow Jones Newswires
IBADAN, Nigeria – Harvesting of Nigeria’s mid-crop cocoa is expected to start in May, a month late, mainly due to late rains, traders said on Friday.
Other factors contributing to the delay are the gasoline shortage that hit the country in February which has not fully eased and the high price of imported agricultural inputs due to the decline in the value of the Nigerian naira against against the US dollar, they said.
“The mid-harvest harvest will begin in May.” said Sunday Taiwo, a cocoa trader in Osun State in southwestern Nigeria. The mid-harvest cocoa crop typically accounts for 30% of the country’s annual cocoa production, according to the Cocoa Association of Nigeria.
Traders said the delay was due to the persistent dry spell in the country, particularly in the South West region, where 70% of Nigeria’s annual cocoa production of around 250,000 to 280,000 tonnes , is produced, according to trade groups in the country.
If the rains return and fall steadily in April, the interim harvest could begin in low volumes before May, trader Bola Akintunde said, adding that fuel shortages had hampered the movement of farmers and inputs such as chemicals to the farms, which also affected crop growth. .
Fuel shortages continue in parts of the South West region, although better than before, trader Ade Tijani said, adding that the weaker naira is driving up prices of imported insecticides and fungicides , preventing farmers from buying enough to adequately protect their farms from black. pod disease.