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Cocoa Harvest Outlook Improves as Rains Ease Drought Conditions

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After suffering from the driest conditions in over a decade, the outlook has brightened for West Africa’s current mid-crop cocoa harvest. Recent heavy rainfall in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, which together make up over 50% of the world’s cocoa production, is bringing hope for a better harvest.

Production in the two countries will be lower this year compared with record combined output of 3.3 million tonnes in the 2020/2021 season. However, fears of a sharp production decline have been eased by the recent rainfall. Gro expects the two countries’ total production will be close to the 2.9 million tonnes of the 2019/2020 season, which saw similar growing conditions.

Drought readings for Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana’s cocoa growing areas (blue line) have declined following recent heavy rainfall, as shown by the Gro Drought Index. Click on the image and log in to monitor drought, soil moisture, NDVI, and other cocoa growing conditions using Gro's Climate Risk Navigator.

The mid-crop harvest in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, which runs from April to September, accounts for about 20% of the countries’ combined total production. The bigger, main crop harvest, which goes from October to March, benefited from above-average rainfall during the 2021 summer. 

Soil moisture levels in the cocoa growing regions of both countries dropped to record lows at the beginning of 2022, but have since recovered to around average levels for this time of year. Rainfall in March and April has been above the 10-year average, which has lowered Gro’s Drought Index from the highs seen in February. The Index reached “extreme” levels of drought in some parts of Côte d’Ivoire and “severe” levels in Ghana, but both countries have fallen into the “moderate” drought range.

Cocoa futures prices on the New York market, currently trading at $2,511 per tonne, hit a season high of $2,830/tonne on February 11, well below the $3,417/tonne high of the 2015/2016 season and just under the 2019/2020 season high of $2,988/tonne.

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