The Executive Director of the International Cocoa Organisation (ICCO), Jean-Marc Anga, says he is confident Ghana’s cocoa production will rise in the 2015/16 season following a drop of some 20 per cent this season to around 700,000 tonnes.
Mr. Anga’s view will be a boost for Ghana’s cocoa regulator, Cocobod, which has been under pressure due to an unexpected decline in output in Ghana, the world’s second biggest producer of the crop.
He said his optimism was based on information from private sector players and authorities.
Cocobod’s policy of increasing the number of seedlings it distributes and encouraging young people to become farmers would help the industry, he said.
“I have satisfied myself that this (drop in output) is a temporary measure,” Mr. Anga told a news conference during an ICCO seminar in Accra. “I have the confidence that production will go up for the next year.”
“If a word has to be used it is ringing confidence in the ability of the Ghana cocoa board to address any issue that may arise,” he said.
Ghana has cut its output target for the crop year to around 700,000 tonnes from a revised forecast of 850,000 tonnes due to adverse weather, late fertiliser application and disease.
The shortfall could leave the world’s leading chocolate makers short of beans and deal a fresh blow to the West African country’s precarious finances.
Mr. Anga said he “did not exclude the possibility” that the full year production figure could reach 750,000 tonnes.
One concern is that the average productive life of cocoa trees in major producing countries was around 30 years but in Ghana and Ivory Coast trees reached 35 years, Mr. Anga said.
Ghana runs a two-cycle cocoa season consisting the larger October-May premium beans, which are exported mainly to Europe and the July-September light crop which is discounted to local grinders.
Senior Cocobod officials declined to give an estimate for the coming light crop season but argued that the decline in the current season’s crop was cyclical.
Cocobod has increased the amount of seedlings distributed to farmers to 50 million from 11 million and the number of nursery staff to 87 from 27, said Deputy Chief Executive of Cocobod Francis Oppong.
Cocobod had also distributed free fertiliser to all farmers and its decision made at the start of the season to raise the amount paid to farmers per 64-kg bag was also helping, he said.