Nigeria Cocoa Showing Rising Mold as Cloudy Weather Persists

Persistent cloudy weather in Nigeria’s southwest cocoa-growing region has slowed drying of harvested beans resulting in higher-than-normal levels of mold, traders said.
“The lack of sunshine is not allowing for the proper drying of the
harvested crop,” Najeem Bakare, managing director of Oyebanjo Ventures Ltd., a cocoa-buying company, said by phone on Thursday from the southwestern city of Abeokuta. Beans from the region are showing mold levels of about 20 percent and “exporters are rejecting them,” he said.
Mold in beans for export are acceptable when less than 5 percent, according to the International Cocoa Organization. Other parts of the southwest, which accounts for 70 percent of Nigeria’s production, have reported mold levels ranging from 12 percent in Ile Ife town to 15 percent in Ile Oluji, which has experienced incessant rain in recent days.
Nigeria is the world’s largest cocoa producer after Ivory Coast, Ghana and Indonesia with a government-estimated output of 350,000 metric tons in the 2013-2014 season. The ICCO estimates Nigeria’s output at 240,000 tons for the same period.
The affected beans are mainly early main-crop cocoa, whose season is set to officially start from October, according to Aminu Yakubu, secretary of the Cocoa Farmers’ Association in Edo state. “Unfortunately, most of the beans are robust and in the 290 grams (10.22 ounces) and 300 grams bean-count range,” he said by phone the state capital Benin City.
As many as 1,000 tons of beans have been rejected by exporters, forcing some farmers to leave ripened cocoa pods on the trees while awaiting more liberal sunshine, according to Muri Adeniji, an official of Lagos-based cocoa-exporter Starlink Global Ltd.

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