Nigerian Rain Forecast Seen Hurting Cocoa Crop With Floods, Mold: Nigeria’s rainy season will last longer than usual, the country’s weather agency predicted, raising concerns that floods and disease will damage the nation’s cocoa crop. Nigeria, the world’s fourth-biggest cocoa producer, will get rain through the end of December, about a month longer than last year, according to forecasts e-mailed to Bloomberg on Thursday from the nation’s meteorological agency.
The coming of rain will be delayed by eight to 13 days in southern Nigerian states, which account for more than 60 percent of the country’s cocoa, the agency known as NIMET said. The prediction is “a bad omen for cocoa development” in the 2015-16 season, Joseph Ayodele, a cocoa farmer and vice chairman of the Cocoa Farmers Association, said by phone on Friday from the southwest town of Ado Ekiti.
Rains continuing until December will probably “lead to excessive flooding of cocoa farms and a massive incidence of black pod” disease and mold, he said. Nigeria is the world’s number four cocoa producer after Ivory Coast, Ghana and Indonesia. The West African nation produced 350,000 metric tons of cocoa in the 2013-2014 season, according to the Agriculture Ministry.
The International Cocoa Organization assessed Nigeria’s production for that season at 240,000 tons. Cocoa thrives best in temperatures from 18 degrees Celsius to 32 degrees Celsius, and doesn’t fare well in waterlogged soil, according to the ICCO. The majority of Nigeria’s cocoa farmers, who operate small holdings, may not be able to stock up agricultural chemicals needed to combat rain-induced diseases, according a farmer from Idanre, the biggest cocoa-growing community in the southwest. Many have yet to receive government subsidies for last year’s purchases, he said.
This article originally appeared in Bloomberg