Disease and drought cut down Ghana’s cocoa yields from 812,000 to 770,000 metric tons

COCOBOD Boss, Joseph Boahen Aidoo COCOBOD Boss, Joseph Boahen Aidoo

On Thursday, September 24, 2020, day 1 of his 3-day tour of the Western North Region, the President, declared "Nananom, beginning 1st October 2020, I am happy to announce the award of a new cocoa producer price of GH¢10,560 per metric ton, equivalent to GH¢660 per bag for the coming 2020/21 crop year", when he launched the Cocoa Rehabilitation Programme, in Sefwi Wiawso.

The Daily Graphic newspaper quoted Nana Akufo-Addo, as explaining "this represents a hike of more than 28% over the price obtained in the outgoing crop year of 2019/2020."

But it is being reported by Bloomberg that Ghana's cocoa harvest has been hit by drought and disease.

Ekow Dontoh, Bloomberg's correspondent in Accra, five days after the President's statement wrote that "​​​​​​Ghana's 2019-20 cocoa harvest dropped to the lowest in five years after spells of drought and a severe outbreak of swollen-shoot disease damaged trees, according to people familiar with the matter".

It said that "Preliminary data shows that the world's second-biggest cocoa producer harvested 770,000 metric tons of the beans in the year through September, said the people, who asked not to be identified because they're not authorized to speak publicly. That's below the previous season's harvest of 812,000 tons and the lowest since the 2014-15 harvest of 740,000 tons".

It added that "the Ghana Cocoa Board, the regulator, continued the main harvest without pause between the so-called main crop and mid-crop, which is the smaller of the two annual harvests and collected between June and mid-September, said the people. The initial forecast for the season ending Sept. 30 was 800,000 tons".

Fifi Boafo, a spokesman for the board, didn't answer calls seeking comment.

Ghana signed a $1.3 billion syndicated cocoa loan to finance the bean purchases for the 2020-21 season in the capital, Accra.

But ahead of the Sefwi Wiawso's event, the 2019/20 producer price of GH¢8,240 per metric ton, i.e. GH¢514 per bag, was an 8.2% increase over the 2018/2019 price of GH¢7,615, i.e. GH¢475 per bag.

"By this new producer price, we have kept faith with our commitment, under the international arrangement with Côte d'Ivoire and global stakeholders, by awarding to our farmers the full four hundred United States dollars per metric ton (US$400/MT) Living Income Differential (LID)," the President said.

He continued that "By this substantial increase in the producer price, we are also delivering on our 2016 manifesto promise to reward handsomely the hard work of our cocoa farmers and their unequalled contribution to the economy of Ghana over the years."

Touching on the unstable nature of cocoa prices on the world cocoa market, President Akufo-Addo stated that "it remains one of the biggest challenges to ensuring payment of decent farm-gate prices to our cocoa farmers."

With Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire responsible for 65% of the raw cocoa beans used in making chocolates, the President bemoaned the fact that cocoa farmers from the two countries just US$6 billion from an over $100 billion chocolate industry.

This, he explained, is the meagre return that hardworking farmers get from their toil.

"Government believes that value-addition to our cocoa, and the search for new markets, will make us more money than all the aid given to us by all the donor countries. We shall gain some dignity, and spare the donors the fatigue we have all heard about," he added.

This, according to President Akufo-Addo, is the rationale for the Strategic Partnership between Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana, the common initiative of His Excellency President Alassane Ouattara of Cote d'Ivoire and himself, which is manifesting itself in a joint cocoa production and marketing policy, and which is already paying dividends.

"Today, I am happy to announce that Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire are receiving a Living Income Differential (LID) of four hundred United States dollars (US$400) per ton of cocoa, which is an additional earning from the world market price for our farmers. The Living Income Differential is going to guarantee some stability to the producer price of cocoa and sustainability of the industry in Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire," the President said.

Source: The Herald