Ghana is reported as heading for its smallest cocoa crop in 12 years after drought withered pods and illegal gold miners damaged plantations, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
Ekow Dontoh of Bloomberg reports thatpreliminary data shows the world’s second-largest producer will harvest an estimated 685,000 tons of beans in the season through September, down from a record crop of about 1.05 million tons the previous year, said the people, who asked not to be identified because they’re not authorized to speak publicly.
The Akufo-Addo government claims it has been fighting the galemsey menace, and billions of taxpayers’ money have been spent on that. It was, however, discovered that many officials of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) were deeply involved, with most of them claiming that the proceeds are meant to finance the operations of the party.
Indeed, the recently defeated General Secretary of the NPP, John Boadu was mentioned in a secret audiotape made in the office of the Minister of Environment Science and Technology, Prof. Kwabena Frimpong Boateng then in-charge of the fight against galamsey, as spearheading the illegal mining by his party’s top men.
Ghana’s cocoa regulator had originally forecast a crop of 950,000 tons this year, but the harvest was hit by long dry spells early in the season. In addition, more than 19,000 hectares, or about 2% of cocoa plantations, have been destroyed by so-called galamsey — small-scale miners who often operate illegally, the Ghana Cocoa Board said in May.
Some farms are also reeling from the impact of the swollen shoot virus disease that hit them three years ago. Read: Gold Diggers Worsen Outlook for Cocoa Harvest in No. 2 Producer By June 2, output had reached about 641,000 tons compared with 965,493 tons a year earlier, the people said. An additional 40,000 tons of cocoa will probably be harvested during the mid-crop season that runs from July to September, they said.
A spokesman for the regulator, Fiifi Boafo, declined to comment on the output estimate, but said Ghana’s production would recover from any drop in the next season.
“We will bounce back strongly,” he said.
The board estimates Ghana will harvest about 850,000 tons of the chocolate-making ingredient in the next season, which starts in October.