• Swollen shoot virus to reduce crop forecast to 800,000 tons
  • Replanting of trees to weigh on production for four years

Ghana’s cocoa regulator is facing a shortage of beans to meet all its sales commitments as disease is affecting more of the crop than previously estimated, according to people familiar with the matter.

An outbreak of the swollen shoot virus will probably reduce the harvest of the world’s second-largest cocoa grower to 800,000 metric tons for the season through September, said the people, who asked not to be identified because they’re not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.

An initial estimate of 900,000 tons was cut to 850,000 tons last month following a crop assessment.

Ghana Cocoa Board’s chief executive officer, Joseph Boahen Aidoo, led a delegation to the growing areas last week to reassess the situation. The outbreak will speed-up plans to replant old trees and reduce the crop’s potential for about four years while new plants reach maturity, said the people.

Less Cocoa
Ghana’s cocoa crop is expected to be the lowest in three years

Source: Ghana Cocoa Board, Bloomberg

NOTE: 2018-19 figure is an estimate

The swollen shoot virus causes abnormally shaped pods, leading to lower yields.

While the disease is not uncommon across cocoa growing regions in West Africa, the current outbreak in three of Ghana’s biggest planting areas is particularly devastating.
A spokeswoman for Ghana Cocoa Board declined to comment. Aidoo wouldn’t immediately comment when contacted by phone.

The “outbreak is very alarming and troubling for farmers,” said Samuel Quainoo, a chief producer who supervises 16,000 small-scale growers near the southwestern border with Ivory Coast. “About two-thirds of the tree stock in the district have to be cut down.”

As a consequence, the regulator is likely to postpone some deliveries until next season for $200 million in sales that it secured through early payments for this year’s light harvest, said the people. The light harvest is the smaller of the two annual crops and its proceeds are reserved for local grinders.

Credit: Bloomberg

( By Ekow Dontoh )