This Day (Lagos)

13 August 2014

Nigeria's Cocoa Prices Fall As Mold Reduces Quality

Cocoa prices/quotes received by farmers in Nigeria have declined as mold induced by heavy rains reduced the quality of the chocolate ingredient, Socodevi, an organisation working on improving crops in the country has said.

Farmgate prices in the Cross River belt dropped eight per cent to N440,000 a metric tonne, compared with N480,000 at the end of July, the country coordinator for Socodevi, Neji Abang, told Bloomberg in an interview.

"High mold caused by heavy rains affected crop quality, leading to lower pricing of beans by exporters," said Neji, who is training farmers in the country how to raise output and bean quality.

"The mold level is as high as 21 per cent compared with three per cent that is internationally acceptable."

The Cross River region produces about 75,000 tonnes of cocoa annually, out of a national output of 300,000 tonnes. Cocoa exports from Nigeria rose 41 per cent to 8,990 tonnes in July compared with a month earlier, the nation's Federal Produce Inspection Service, which certifies exports said.

Socodevi is training farmers "on best pruning practices, to reduce the effect of mold. We are asking farmers to reduce unwanted branches to enable sunlight to penetrate their farms for the main crop harvest."

The main crop harvest in the southern Edo state, accounting for 15 per cent of the nation's output, has been slowed by mold of up to 30 per cent owing to the rains, spokesman for the Cocoa Farmers Association of Nigeria, Aminu Yakubu said.

The rainy season, which runs from May to October in the area, has brought heavy precipitation this month, he said.

In Ondo state, the highest producing state, which is responsible for as much as 40 per cent of the nation's output, mold levels are up to 20 per cent, making it difficult for farmers to dry beans, chairman for the farmers' association said Adeola Adegoke.

Farmgate prices in the area are between N450,000 and N500,000, he said.

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