This was contained in a statement issued by the Oxford Business Group (OBG) recently.
“Crop production for the 2015/16 growing season, which spans October to September, reached 690,000 tons, although this fell short of the 850,000-ton projection made by the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD),” the statement said.
Yields from both the main harvest and the secondary harvest, which began in late June, were impacted by a prolonged and particularly severe harmattan and low rainfall.
Charity Sackitey, Managing Director for cocoa and chocolate producer Barry Callebaut Ghana, also cited the proliferation of illegal mining as having taken an environmental toll on cocoa production.
“Another concern is the proximity of illegal and small-scale mining to cocoa plantations, as heavy metal poisoning and pollution are degrading the land and affecting freshwater and underground aquifers,” she said.
OBG said that the latest result was well below Ghana’s 2014/15 cocoa output, which totaled 730,000 tons, a figure that also failed to meet the COCOBOD’s target of 1 million tons for that year.
The low 2014/15 harvest meant that, for only the third time in the past decade, cocoa had to be imported from Côte d’Ivoire to cover the shortfall.
In August, 2016, the International Cocoa Organization (ICCO) revised its global production estimates for the 2015/16 season, with total global output forecast to reach 3.99 million tons, a decline of 5.9 percent year-on-year, which would leave a 212,000-ton supply shortfall.
“The sector body is committed to distributing up to 60 million free hybrid cocoa seedlings per year,” the statement said, adding that the new variety was more resistant to pests and diseases and able to withstand harsher weather conditions.
The seedlings are expected to increase yields, according to Isaac Yaw Opoku, Executive Director of the Seed Production Unit at COCOBOD.
Opoku said in addition to COCOBOD’s focus on supporting cocoa production, improvements to Ghana’s transport infrastructure were expected to have some benefits for the cocoa industry.
Additionally, further upgrades to the country’s ports, such as the 1.5 million U.S. dollars project planned at the Port of Tema, slated for completion at the end of 2019, are also expected to allow faster loading of export commodities, including cocoa. Enditem