ABIDJAN, May 13 (Reuters) - Cashew output in Ivory Coast is down by about a quarter this season because of weather and quality-related issues, the general director of the Cotton and Cashew Council marketing board said to Reuters on Thursday.
But Malamine Sanogo, the board’s director, said he remained confident that the West African nation, which surpassed India to become the world’s top cashew producer last year, would reach its forecast of 725,000 tonnes this year.
“We recorded 429,819 tonnes as of May 6,” said Sanogo. “The general consensus is (there has been) a weak yield from the season’s first blossoms due to the climate.”
The director said the farmgate price had dropped to 450-550 CFA francs ($1.73) per kilogram, down from 600-625 CFA francs ($2.12) per kg CAS-CIF-CI, partly because exporters had withdrawn financing because of insufficient quality.
As a result, many sellers and producers have tried to run down their stocks, fearing a further plunge in prices.
As of May 6, 193,127 tonnes of cashews had been exported. The marketing season runs from February to July.
There were also concerns about preserving quality during Ivory Coast’s approaching rainy season, when storing and drying the nuts is difficult.
“We are asking farmers to take advantage of the sunny weather to dry the cashew well because it is quality that is rewarded well,” said Sanogo.
Despite the disappointing start to the harvest, Sanogo said Ivory Coast, already the world’s top cocoa producer, had the potential to produce 1 million tonnes cashews annually in the next three years.
$1 = 577.8800 CFA francs Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Editing by Makini Brice and David Evans