Outlook for West Africa main crops; farmgate prices announced
Cocoa regulators in both Ghana and Ivory Coast have been warning for months of smaller 2021/22 crops as trees “rest” from bumper crops of the last two seasons—a phenomenon known as tree fatigue. A dry spring and harmattan season most likely pressured pod set and flowering for the start of the new main crop this month but returning rains will help trees and could allow for improved production in the second half of the main crop.
Ghana’s Cocobod had previously warned that trees may produce 20 percent fewer pods and Ivory Coast’s CCC has also cautioned about lower yields this season. Ghana’s crop has been forecast from 825,000 to 850,000 MT, down more than 125,000 MT from its 2020/21 output. Preliminary numbers for Ivory Coast suggest that a decline of 5 percent is possible. Regulators may be talking their book and attempting to boost prices ahead of the busy export months. Demand is steadily improving around the world, and speculative funds have been accumulating long positions since early July, seemingly anticipating a bullish market.
For the Ivorian 2021/22 main crop, market watchers had expected a robust farmgate price near or even above last season’s main-crop price of 1,000 CFA francs per kg, enough to encourage farmers to improve husbandry, boosting yields through the application of fertilizer and other inputs. In the case of Ivory Coast, a hike to 900 CFA francs per kg would have prompted stockpiling of 2020/21 midcrop beans—to be mixed into and sold with new-crop beans.
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