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Ivory Coast to reduce cocoa output over next two years

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ABIDJAN (Reuters) – Ivory Coast’s Coffee and Cocoa Council (CCC) will suspend programmes for the 2018-19 season that boost cocoa output, it said on Friday, aiming to reduce production in the face of global oversupply.

The marketing board plans to halt distribution of higher-grade seeds and plants by chocolate makers, including Mars and Nestle, that develop hybrid species that they pass on to farmers to increase yields.

Those programmes helped to increase output in the world’s top grower to record highs last year but added to a supply glut that has depressed prices worldwide.

“Given the increase in global cocoa supply and falling prices since 2016/17, the CCC has decided to carry out a census of the coffee and cocoa orchards,” the CCC said in a statement. It did not say when the census would begin.

“Pending the finalisation of this census, we inform you of our decision to temporarily suspend any distribution of improved plant material, seeds, cuttings, etc, from the 18/19 season.”

Output in Ivory Coast has risen from 1.6 million tonnes 10 years ago to 2 million tonnes in the 2016-17 season because of higher yields, but global demand has failed to meet supply. The CCC expects production for the 2017-18 season to slip to 1.9 million tonnes, partly because of bad weather.

High-level sources at the CCC said the organisation wants to try to reduce output to between 1.7 million tonnes and 1.8 million tonnes over the next two years, affecting exporters and chocolate makers that also include Ferrero, Cargill, Olam, Cemoi and Cocoa Barry.

“Our goal is to control our production because these last 10 years, it is these programmes initiated by chocolatiers … that increased our production from 1.6 million to 2 million (tonnes),” a CCC source said.

Separately, the CCC has begun a three-year programme to uproot 300,000 hectares of cocoa infected by swollen shoot since January. The CCC source said that 25,000 hectares have been cleared already, which will also help to reduce growing capacity in the coming years.


(Reporting Ange Aboa; Writing by Edward McAllister; Editing by Jason Neely and David Goodman)

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Ghana seeks Swiss support to process more cocoa

Comments (0) Latest Updates from Reuters

ACCRA (Reuters) – Ghana is seeking collaboration with Switzerland to boost its cocoa output and process more of the beans in the face of price volatility, President Nana Akufo-Addo said on Wednesday.

Ghana, the world’s second largest producer and top grower Ivory Coast, which together account for more than 60 percent of the world’s cocoa supply, have been hit by a sharp drop in world prices that have seen cocoa futures plummet by around a third.

While Ivory Coast responded by slashing its guaranteed farmgate prices, Ghana has maintained the price at which it buys cocoa from farmers since the season opened in October.

Ghana exports at least 70 percent of its beans mainly to Europe through forward contracts.

“Ghana, under my presidency, will no longer become mere producers and exporters of cocoa beans, and will continue the policy of processing more and more of our cocoa,” Akufo-Addo told reporters after a meeting with Swiss President Doris Leuthard in Accra.

Both sides agreed to undertake joint projects to add value to Ghana’s beans, Akufo-Addo said without giving details.

Ghana, which also exports gold and oil is under a three-year aid programme with the International Monetary Fund to restore fiscal stability to its economy, dogged by high public debt, deficits and consumer inflation.


(Reporting by Kwasi Kpodo; Editing by Greg Mahlich)


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Cameroon’s 2015/16 cocoa production rises 16% y/y

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

YAOUNDE (Reuters) – Cameroon’s cocoa production rose nearly 16 percent year-on-year to 269,495 tonnes in the 2015/16 season, National Cocoa and Coffee Board (NCCB) data released on Thursday showed.

Africa’s fourth-largest cocoa producer has targeted annual production of 600,000 tonnes by 2020. The 2016/17 season opened on Wednesday.

The 2015/16 figure surpassed the central African country’s previous record of 240,000 tonnes during the 2010/11 season. Output since then has fluctuated due to pests, crop diseases and a prolonged dry season.

Cameroon’s government is trying to encourage young people and women to grow the crop and to prevent illegal export to neighboring countries.

Last year, Cameroon announced plans to double its cocoa processing capacity to about 30 percent of its total production, by adding 10 new processing units.

Cameroon’s cocoa season runs from Aug. 1 to July 1. The main harvest is from October to January/February, followed by a light crop harvest period from April/May to June/July.



(Reporting By Sylvain Andzongo; writing by Aaron Ross; Editing by Adrian Croft and Alexandra Hudson)

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Ivorian cocoa arrivals down around 10 pct by July 3 vs last season

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

ABIDJAN (Reuters) – Cocoa arrivals at ports in top grower Ivory Coast reached around

1,412,000 tonnes by July 3 since the start of the season on October 1, 2015, exporters estimated on Monday, down from 1,575,000 tonnes in the same period the previous season.

Exporters estimated around 18,000 tonnes of beans were delivered to the West African state’s two ports of Abidjan and San Pedro between June 27 and July 3, down from 29,000 tonnes during the same period last year.


(Reporting by Ange Aboa; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg and Louise Heavens)

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Ivorian government to reduce export taxes for cocoa products

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

ABIDJAN (Reuters) – The Ivorian government has announced reduced export taxes for cocoa products in a bid to encourage production and processing in the West African country.

Taxes on exports of cocoa butter will fall to 11 percent from 14.6 percent and taxes on cocoa mass will drop to 13.2 percent from 14.6 percent, the government said.

The export tax on cocoa powder will fall to 9.6 percent from 14.6 percent.

Also, trading houses such as Cocoa Barry, Olam and Cargill will be able to increase their processing capacity by 7.5 percent. Smaller processors will be able to expand by 10-15 percent.

The changes are pending formal contracts to be signed between processors and the government.





(Reporting by Ange Aboa; writing by Edward McAllister; editing by Jason Neely)

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Ivory Coast mid-crop cocoa harvest hit by poor weather

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

ABIDJAN (Reuters) – Purchases of cocoa in Ivory Coast’s mid-crop season that starts in April have ground to a halt because of a lack of rain and harsh winds that have also hit quality, farmers and buyers said.

Forecasts for the April-October mid crop say it could drop to between 380,000 and 390,000 tonnes, a 24 percent fall from 502,000 tonnes in the same harvest last year, according to several trading houses and cocoa producers.

The West African country is the world’s biggest producer of cocoa, with output of around 1.8 million tonnes per year, of which the mid-crop represents about 30 percent. Dry weather has already reduced forecasts for the 2015-2016 season to around 1.6 million.

Many exporters have reduced or stopped buying altogether as a lack of rain has made beans smaller and twice as acidic as usual.

“The quality is … at a level where we would prefer not to buy at the moment,” said the director of an exports company in Abidjan, who declined to be identified. “We will see in June if that changes.”

Only seven of more than 100 accredited operators have bought beans and opened their factories so far. About 80 percent of exporting companies have stopped buying, exporters said.

On Monday exporters bought 2,800 tonnes of cocoa in the ports of Abidjan and San Pedro, down significantly from the normal haul of 20,000 tonnes.

While smaller beans may be bought by local grinders instead of exported, they produce more acidity and less butter than larger ones, forcing grinders to purchase more for the same result. Acidity levels, or FFA, stood at 3.5 percent against a usual level of 1.75 percent, exporters said.

As a result, grinders have largely foregone purchases so far this mid-crop season, opting to wait for any improvements in the crop that may appear toward the end of the harvest.

Recent rain in the main cocoa-growing regions was too late to affect the development of pods on the trees, farmers said.

“We are happy with the rain’s return, but it’s too late for the production,” said Salomon Lohami, who owns a seven-acre cocoa plantation in Kahin. “If it was January or February, that could change the harvest, but not at this point.”


(By Ange Aboa. Writing by Makini Brice; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg and David Holmes)

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Harsh winds, lack of rain to hit Ghana cocoa output

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

ACCRA (Reuters) – Ghana could lose as much as 25 percent of its projected cocoa output this season as harsh winds and a lack of rain confound efforts to boost yields in the world’s second-largest producer, a government source said.

The Harmattan wind, which blows off the Sahara, sapping soil moisture and spoiling seeds, came early this season and has intensified in recent weeks, stunting pod growth more than usual and stifling government plans for expansion.

The West African country had hoped to produce 850,000-900,000 tonnes of cocoa in the 2015/16 crop year, up from the previous season’s 740,000 tonnes.

But a government source with knowledge of crop estimates said full-year production might not exceed 750,000 tonnes, and could fall as much as 25 percent short of initial estimates.

In addition to the impact of the weather, some cocoa farms have been destroyed by seasonal bushfire, the source said.

Regulator Cocobod, which had provided free early-maturing hybrid seedlings and fertilisers to boost the crop, said it was too early to know the effect of the weather on its output target and declined to give an estimate.

“Our technical men are just about to go to the field and until they come out with their findings, it will be too early to estimate the damage caused by the Harmattan,” Cocobod spokesman Noah Amenyah said.

In major western and eastern growing regions, farmers told Reuters that they are struggling to even meet last year’s quota.

“We started the year with high hopes because they (Cocobod) gave us all the inputs we needed, but we don’t have the same level of hope now,” 59-year-old farmer Stingo Arthur said, pointing at the withered pods clustered on the trees of his 20-acre farm.

“It is severe now because there is no rain.”

Arthur had expected to harvest more than thirty 64-kilogram (141-lb) bags this season, up from 20 bags last year after boosting his farm with 516 hybrid seedlings and fertiliser last June. So far, he has harvested only 18 bags.

Chief cocoa farmer for the Eastern region, Nana Obeng Akrofi, said he had revised down his original harvest target of 200 bags to “not more than 160” from his 45-acre cocoa cultivation at Bonsu, due to the devastating effects of the Harmattan.

Ghana produces 70 percent of its output in its main crop harvest between October and January. A July-September light crop is discounted to local processing companies.

The bad weather means farmers did not see the volume of beans that normally come at the tail end of the main crop.

Weather forecasters predict rain in mid February or early March but many farmers say that will be too late for light crop beans.

“My fear is that the light crop may be worse,” Akrofi said.


(Reporting by Kwasi Kpodo; Editing by Makini Brice, Edward McAllister and Jan Harvey)

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Ivory Coast rains don’t end cocoa farmers’ worries

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

ABIDJAN (Reuters) – Rain that has fallen in many of Ivory Coast’s cocoa growing regions will aid the April-to-September mid-crop but damage caused by the Harmattan wind remained a concern for some, farmers said on Monday.

The Harmattan is a wind that usually blows from the Sahara during December to March. At its peak it can destroy cocoa pods and sap soil moisture, making beans smaller. Ivory Coast is also in its dry season from mid-November to March.

Farmers said their eyes were on the April-to-September mid-crop since most of the main cocoa crop was complete.

In the western region of Soubre, at the heart of the cocoa belt, an analyst reported 37 millimetres of rainfall in the spell, compared with none last week.

Salame Kone, who farms in the outskirts of Soubre, said farmers were pleased with the rainfall this week and hoped it would continue so the mid-crop would start well. But the main crop had ended poorly, he said, adding:

“There are few pods on the trees. The flowers of the main crop weakened a great deal.”

In the eastern region of Abengourou, known for the good quality of its beans, farmers reported one good downpour followed by the return of the Harmattan dry wind.

N’Dri Kouao, who farms near Niable, said little of the main cocoa crop remained and predicted that, if the weather persisted, the mid-crop would disappoint.

“The rain is good but the return of Harmattan worries us because it is drying up the leaves and the flowers,” said Kouao.

Similar growing conditions were reported in the western region of Duekoue.

In the centre-western region Daloa, which produces a quarter of Ivory Coast’s national output, farmers reported no rain, adding that persistent drought had weakened trees.

Farmer Albert N’Zue said the mid-crop may be small in the first three months because of the weather conditions.

“Many trees will not endure for a long time if it doesn’t rain soon,” said N’Zue.

Downpours were reported in southern regions of Divo and Aboisso.


(Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Editing by Keith Weir)

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Early, intense Harmattan winds worry Ivory Coast’s cocoa exporters

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

SAN PEDRO, Ivory Coast (Reuters) – The early arrival of intense seasonal Harmattan winds in Ivory Coast’s cocoa growing regions have raised concerns among exporters, who were already harbouring doubts over the size and quality of this season’s main crop in the world’s top producer.

The Harmattan’s dry, dusty winds blow down from the Sahara each year and can, when strong, lead to reduced bean size. The prolonged overcast conditions they create also make it difficult for farmers to properly dry and ferment harvested cocoa, reducing quality.

Farmers reported the arrival of the seasonal phenomenon in Ivory Coast’s growing regions in early December, weeks earlier than expected.

“Output was already down. We already knew that. But the fact the Harmattan has arrived so early and is so strong is really going to complicate the overall picture for the harvest,” said the director of an Abidjan-based export company.

Following a strong start to the 2015/16 season, arrivals to ports in Abidjan and San Pedro have declined gradually in recent weeks and fell behind last year’s levels according to exporters’ most recent estimates.

In San Pedro, Ivory Coast’s main export hub for cocoa, exporter warehouses visited by Reuters were half-full.

“Arrivals will increase a bit but will remain below last year’s volumes. We’ll have 50,000 to 60,000 tonnes per week until January and around 30,000 tonnes in January,” said a San Pedro-based purchases manager.

Ivory Coast brought in a record harvest of around 1.8 million tonnes last season. However, the International Cocoa Organization (ICCO) already predicted in October a global supply deficit of around 96,000 tonnes this season, partly on the back of a significant drop in Ivorian production.

Exporters said that if the currently harsh Harmattan conditions persist, or even worsen, that deficit could grow.

“If this carries on, we risk an even greater impact on the harvest, but on quality as well,” said a second exporter.

The bulk of Ivory Coast’s cocoa is produced during the October-to-March main crop, with the most intense harvesting typically taking place in November and December.

“The Harmattan’s effects will be harsh from December until the end of January and that will clearly have an impact on bean quality. We worry about high (free fatty acid) content and poor fermentation during that period,” a third exporter said.



(By Ange Aboa. Editing by Joe Bavier; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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ICCO to move to Abidjan, seeks new Executive Director

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters, UK

LONDON (Reuters) – The International Cocoa Organization said it will begin moving its headquarters from London to Abidjan, the commercial capital of Ivory Coast, later this week following an improvement in the security situation in the world’s top producer.

The ICCO originally agreed to relocate from London in 2002 but civil unrest disrupted the process which was subsequently suspended. The relocation will begin on Oct. 1 and should be completed at the latest by March 31, 2017.

The inter-governmental body, which has been based in London since its founding in 1973, originally sought to stabilise global prices through operating buffer stocks but has more recently provided statistical data and supported projects to develop cocoa production and trade.

The ICCO also said Executive Director Jean-Marc Anga had launched the process of recruiting his successor. He has been in the role since 2010.

The organisation aims to elect a new Executive Director at a council meeting in September 2016, a spokesman said.

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