Ghana’s weather agency said cocoa farmers in the world’s second-biggest producer of the beans will benefit from more moderate seasonal desert winds after the nation missed output targets for three straight years due to severe dryness.
The Harmattan, winds from the Sahara desert that bring dry weather and coolness to West Africa from December to February,“will be mild” this season, Charles York, chief meteorologist at the Ghana Meteorological Agency, said in an interview in the capital, Accra. Crops, including cocoa, are damaged by the winds that knock flowers that develop into cocoa pods off trees.
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“We expect occasional scattered rains to precede the Harmattan,” York said. “There is enough moisture in the soil to sustain the developing pods. Cocoa will do well.”
The worst Harmattan in three decades slashed cocoa output in West Africa in the last season through September in which Ghana produced 778,043 metric tons of cocoa, 8.5% below the government’s target. Production in neighbouring Ivory Coast, the largest producer, fell by 13% to 1.565 million tons from the year before.
The main cocoa-growing region in Ghana is forecast to receive an average of 23 millimeters of rainfall in December and January, York said.
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The quality of pods on cocoa trees bodes well for this season’s crop, Samuel Quainoo, who heads a group of 17,000 farmers near the southwestern town of Enchi, about 466 kilometers from the capital, said by phone.
“We pray that God blesses us with some good rains so they can develop into cocoa we can harvest and not shrivel away,” Quainoo said.
Cocoa futures dropped to a three-year low in New York on Thursday amid forecasts for declining demand and rising supply. — Bloomberg