Nigeria’s cocoa harvest is forecast to fall by 4.4 per cent to 296,000 metric tons this year as ageing trees and a lack of access to adequate pesticides lowers yields, commodities exchange AFEX said in a report.
Harvesting is under way in Nigeria, which is among the top five global cocoa exporters.
Nigeria has for years been trying to ramp up production as part of plans to diversify the economy and reduce its reliance of oil but has struggled to attract new farmers.
Abuja-based AFEX said in its 2023 crop production report that many cocoa trees were reaching the end of their productive life cycle, leading to lower yields while the deadly fungal disease Black Pod had damaged some crops.
The rainy season in the cocoa producing south west region started late this year, also impacting output, said AFEX, which provides access to markets and finance to farmers.
“Very few people are planting new cocoa trees. The dynamics need to shift from smallholder farming to large-scale commercial farming, and to do that long-term investment is required,” AFEX CEO Akinyinka Akintunde said before releasing the report.
One Nigeria-based cocoa trader estimated that output would be below 296,000 tons, also citing lower yields.
AFEX in its report said production of maize and paddy rice, a major Nigerian staple, was expected to recover from last year when floods hit some farms in the main grain producing region in the north of the country.
Maize production is forecast to increase 6.9 per cent to 11.6 million tons in 2023 while rice output was projected to rise 3.6 per cent increase to 8.3 million tons, said AFEX.