Ghana is heading for its smallest cocoa crop in 12 years after drought withered pods and illegal gold miners damaged plantations, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
Preliminary data shows the world’s second-largest producer will harvest an estimated 685,000 tons of beans in the season through September, down from a record crop of about 1.05 million tons the previous year, said the people, who asked not to be identified because they’re not authorized to speak publicly.
Ghana’s cocoa regulator had originally forecast a crop of 950,000 tons this year, but the harvest was hit by long dry spells early in the season. In addition, more than 19,000 hectares, or about 2% of cocoa plantations, have been destroyed by so-called galamsey — small-scale miners who often operate illegally, the Ghana Cocoa Board said in May. Some farms are also reeling from the impact of the swollen shoot virus disease that hit them three years ago.
By June 2, output had reached about 641,000 tons compared with 965,493 tons a year earlier, the people said. An additional 40,000 tons of cocoa will probably be harvested during the mid-crop season that runs from July to September, they said.
A spokesman for the regulator, Fiifi Boafo, declined to comment on the output estimate, but said Ghana’s production would recover from any drop in the next season. “We will bounce back strongly,” he said.
The board estimates Ghana will harvest about 850,000 tons of the chocolate-making ingredient in the next season, which starts in October.
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