By Obafemi Oredein
Special to Dow Jones Newswires
IBADAN, Nigeria – Nigerian cocoa farmers are currently in the midst of harvesting and sun drying the 2023-24 main crop cocoa as the rainy season comes to a close and weather conditions improve, according to traders on Monday.
Farmers in Nigeria’s two main cocoa producing regions are taking advantage of the hot and sunny weather between intermittent rains to harvest and dry their beans.
“The current pattern of rainfall followed by sunny days is favorable for cocoa. There is no outbreak of the black pod disease again,” stated Toba Adenowuro, a former cocoa desk officer at the Ministry of Agriculture in Ondo, Nigeria’s largest cocoa producing state.
A month ago, heavy rainfall, poor weather, and lack of sunshine posed challenges for Nigerian farmers during the start of the new season’s main crop harvest, according to traders.
Although the southwestern state of Osun experienced showers on Monday afternoon, traders reassured that the rain is actually beneficial for cocoa development and will not hinder the ongoing harvest and drying process.
“The showers in Osun will not disrupt the harvest now underway,” affirmed Wahab Bello, a cocoa merchant.
Nigeria’s Cocoa Production in the Southwest
The southwest region of Nigeria plays a crucial role in the country’s cocoa production, accounting for a substantial 70% of the annual yield. Trade groups within Nigeria have provided this insightful information.
Favorable Weather Conditions
In recent times, the southwest region has experienced scattered downpours, which have proven beneficial to the flourishing of cocoa trees. These showers have resulted in the emergence of new flowers and tiny pods, while the existing small pods are expected to grow larger in preparation for future harvests. This positive development is anticipated to contribute to enhanced cocoa production.
Continuity between Main Crop Harvest and Midcrop Season
Fungicides No Longer Required
The prevailing hot weather in the cocoa regions has created an environment where farmers no longer require fungicides to combat the black pod disease. The black pod disease thrives in wet and damp climates without sufficient sunshine. Consequently, the absence of such conditions has eliminated the need for fungicides.
Impact of the Black Pod Disease
Officials from the Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria have highlighted the significant threat posed by the black pod disease. Left untreated, this disease can result in a damaging impact on up to 40% of the country’s cocoa production within a single season.
Despite this potential risk, the favorable weather conditions and the absence of the black pod disease in the current hot climate hold promising prospects for Nigeria’s cocoa industry.