Concerns Rise Over Mold and Black Pod Disease in the Cocoa Industry

IBADAN, Nigeria – Heavy rainfall in Nigeria’s southwest over the past three weeks has posed challenges for the drying process of cocoa beans, according to officials and traders on Friday.

The continued high humidity levels have also raised concerns within the industry regarding the potential risks of mold development in harvested cocoa and the spread of black pod disease in the forthcoming main cocoa crop for 2023-24.

Taju Akinyele, a trader based in Ibadan, located in the cocoa-producing state of Oyo, stated, “Rainfall has been continuous in the five states of the southwest since the beginning of September, with no signs of sunshine. This is causing an increase in the moisture content of cocoa.”

Another trader added that the current moisture content in Oyo is recorded at 11% to 13% and may rise further if the rainfall persists.

In accordance with international standards, a moisture level of 7.5% or less is required for a consignment of cocoa.

The southwest region contributes to 70% of Nigeria’s annual cocoa production, which ranges from 250,000 to 280,000 tons, as reported by trade groups in the country.

This region currently experiences the rainy season, typically spanning from May to October, with the heaviest rainfall occurring between July and September.

A trader in the state of Ogun, specifically in Abeokuta, mentioned that while the continuous downpours impede sun-drying activities for cocoa, they have positively influenced cocoa development. The trader stated, “The main cocoa crop for 2023-24 is growing well due to the abundant rainfall. We anticipate good weight and size for the cocoa beans to be harvested from October.”

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