Harmattan to affect cocoa production

Cocoa PixWinds from the Sahara that bring dry weather and dust that damage crops will blanket Ghana, the world’s second largest cocoa producer, through the end of January, the Ghana Meteorological Agency has said.

There was no rain in Enchi, a cocoa-growing town in the Western Region, in the last 10 days of December from 8.2 millimeters (0.32 inches) in the preceding 10 days, said Michael Padi, a meteorological officer at the state agency.

Western Region accounts for 55 per cent of total cocoa output.

The winds, known as Harmattan, bring dust from the Sahara desert to southern West Africa, including Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, the world’s biggest cocoa growers.

“This Harmattan is quite severe,” Mr. Padi said in an interview with the Bloomberg in Accra.

“Visibility is within 1,000 feet (304 meters) in the capital and about 1,500 feet in the Western Region.”

Ghana Cocoa Board cut its output estimate for the 12-month period that ends in September because of the harmattan, according to a person familiar with the government’s forecast.

The winds also cause cocoa trees to lose flowers that turn into pods.

In Kumasi, the capital of the Ashanti Region where 18 per cent of total output is grown, there was no rain in the last 10 days of December. About 1.2 millimeters of rain fell in the preceeding 10 days.

Ghana is expected to have temperatures between 17 degrees Celsius (55 degrees Fahrenheit) and 33 degrees Celsius in January, Mr. Padi said.

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