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Rains, flood hampers Nigeria’s cocoa harvest

Heavy rains fall, flood and outbreak of fungal are threatening Nigeria’s cocoa harvest, the cocoa association has warned.
“It has been raining heavily and nonstop, almost daily since late July,” Sayina Riman, president of the Cocoa Association of Nigeria, said .
 “Just as flooding is threatening the survival of the cocoa trees, excessive rain is boosting the spread of black pod disease.”
Riman, from the south east cocoa trading hub of Ikom, where he runs a 112-hectare (276-acre) farm, said fungus that attacks both pods and trees, black pod spreads fast in damp weather, causing pods to shrivel and turn black while trees whither.
The worst-affected is south eastern cocoa belt which could lose as much as 40 per cent of its estimated output of 72,000 metric tons of cocoa beans.
Nigeria currently ranks joint fifth with neighbouring Cameroon among the world’s biggest cocoa producers, with the International Cocoa Organization estimating its 2017-18 output at 240,000 metric tons.
The local cocoa association estimates that production will be little changed in the 2018-19 season due to start in October.
Nigeria has two cocoa seasons comprising the smaller midcrop running from April to June, and the main crop from October to December.
More than 60 per cent of Nigeria’s cocoa is produced in the southwestern region, with the city of Akure as the main trading center.
Source: Business and maritime