There is growing competitiveness among merchants and exporters in Nigeria due to a shortage of cocoa, according to traders. Muftau Abolarinwa, the president of the Cocoa Association of Nigeria, explained that most farmers blame the persistent rainfall and the black pod disease for the cocoa scarcity. Unfortunately, the high cost of chemicals needed to combat the black pod disease prevents many farmers from purchasing them.
Chemical dealers have also reported that cocoa farmers in Nigeria are facing increased input costs as a result of the depreciation of the national currency, the naira. Isaac Ashaolu, a chemical dealer in Ibadan, the capital city of Oyo state, disclosed that a 50-gram sachet of Ridomil, which is used to combat the black pod disease, currently sells for 850 Nigerian naira. Last year, it was priced at NGN400 to NGN450.
The Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria has stated that the black pod disease thrives in wet conditions on cocoa farms when there is a lack of sunshine. This disease can potentially damage up to 40% of Nigerian cocoa annually.
Since the removal of petrol subsidies in May and the subsequent free float of the naira against the U.S dollar and other global currencies announced by the Central Bank of Nigeria in June, the naira has depreciated by over 40%. As a result, prices for goods, food, chemicals, medicine, and services have been steadily increasing.
Cocoa Shortage in Nigeria
The cocoa industry in Nigeria is currently facing a significant shortage, with no clear signs of improvement in the near future. The lack of cocoa beans has created intense competition among cocoa merchants and exporters in the southwest region, which is responsible for the majority of cocoa production in the country.
According to Biodun Osho, a trader, the low harvest and scarcity of beans have led to a limited supply of cocoa available for purchase. This, in turn, has reduced the amount of cocoa that merchants and exporters are able to acquire.
In Cross River state, one of Nigeria’s largest cocoa producers, the situation is even more severe. Sayina Riman, a former president of the Cocoa Association of Nigeria, highlighted the poor main cocoa harvest and the slim prospects for a bumper harvest this year.
Farmers in Cross River state were expecting a significant increase in the main crop season following a disappointing midcrop season. However, their expectations have not been met, as the main crop has fallen short of anticipated yields.
Furthermore, the cocoa beans in Cross River state have been affected by mold due to unfavorable weather conditions characterized by excessive rain and a lack of sunshine for proper drying. This has further exacerbated the challenges faced by cocoa merchants like Sunday Taiwo.
Taiwo, a cocoa merchant, expressed his disappointment, stating that he has only been able to purchase less than 30 tons of cocoa so far. His original target for the 2023-24 season in Cross River state was 3,000 tons, illustrating the magnitude of the shortage.
In conclusion, Nigeria’s cocoa industry is grappling with a shortage of cocoa beans, leading to intense competition and economic challenges for merchants and exporters. The situation is further exacerbated by unfavorable weather conditions that have resulted in poor crop yields and the presence of mold in the cocoa beans. As stakeholders continue to navigate this crisis, it remains uncertain when the situation will improve.