Cocoa

GHANA FACING 12-YEAR LOW COCOA CROP DUE TO DROUGHT, ILLEGAL MINING

Ghana may be seeing the lowest Cocoa crop it has produced in 12 years, as its plantations suffered from severe droughts and damage from illegal gold mining.

As the world’s second largest producer of Cocoa, this development could affect cocoa prices as reduced supply is likely to put upward pressure on market prices. However, other market forces, including weaker demand, determine the extent of the impact.

Early data from anonymous sources suggests that the country will harvest approximately 685,000 tons of Cocoa beans in its mid-crop season, which runs from July to September. In comparison, Ghana’s crop in the previous year reached a record of around 1.05 million tons.

COCOBOD, Ghana’s Cocoa regulator, previously predicted an output of 950,000 tons. It has since revised this estimate after the country was struck with unexpectedly long dry spells early on. 

The situation is worsened by small-scale gold miners who have reportedly destroyed over 19,000 hectares (about 2%) of cocoa plantations with their illegal mining. A Bartalks article said that “3,000 hectares of land previously used for cocoa cultivation in the Eastern Region of Ghana has been taken away from farmers,” as some Chiefs allegedly sell land for illegal mining. “The farmers not only lose their livelihood, but have not received any compensation for the land either.”

In addition, there are still some farms that have not recovered from the impact of the cacao swollen shoot virus (CSSV) that became widespread three years ago. Within the first year after a tree gets infected with the said disease, cocoa yield declines, and the tree typically dies a few years later.

In comparison with Ghana’s record-breaking Cocoa production just a year ago with already 965,493 tons in June, it has only produced 641,000 tons in the same month this year. Ghana’s Cocoa Board expects an additional 40,000 tons to be harvested by September. 

COCOBOD’s spokesperson, Fiifi Boafo, said, “We will bounce back strongly,” when asked to comment on Ghana’s Cocoa estimates, but refused to speak further.

Current estimates are for Ghana to reach 850,000 tons of Cocoa output in October, the start of the next season.

Photo by Issouf Sanogo/AFP

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