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Ghana cocoa purchases jump in early weeks of 2015/16 season

ACCRA - Ghana cocoa purchases stood at 192,128 tons on Oct. 22 at the end of the third week of the 2015/16 season, up 118 percent on the same period last season, data from industry regulator Cocobod showed on Wednesday.

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ACCRA - Ghana cocoa purchases stood at 192,128 tons on Oct. 22 at the end of the third week of the 2015/16 season, up 118 percent on the same period last season, data from industry regulator Cocobod showed on Wednesday.

Purchases fluctuate throughout the main crop season, which runs from October to around July, and a strong start does not necessarily point to a strong season, according to experts.

Ghana is the world's second-largest producer of cocoa and Cocobod forecast a rebound in production to 850,000-900,000 tons in the season that started on Oct. 2 after disappointing output in 2014/15.

Some analysts and buyers said Cocobod's forecast was optimistic and they expected the crop to be hampered in part by the El Nino weather phenomenon.

Last season's output stood at 735,000 tons on Sept. 24 at the end of a season in which Cocobod's initial forecast of more than 1 million tons production was thwarted by adverse weather and the uneven distribution of pesticides and fertilisers.

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Farmers said in interviews that pesticides and fertilisers were being supplied more abundantly this season than last.

"It (the crop) is better than last season because the rain was too much then and we were attacked by black pod but this year few black pods were reported," said Anane Agyei Frimpong, of the Asante Akyem Cocoa Farmers Union in Ashanti region.

Sunshine and intermittent rain was helping the crop and peak production was expected in November, said Frimpong.

There were purchases of 61,549 tons in the first week of the season, 65,486 tons in week two and 65,093 tons in week three, figures obtained by Reuters showed.

This compares to 88,299 by week three last season and 228,040 in the same period of the 2013/14 season. Of the total, licensed buying company PBC purchased 61,741 tons by week three while Amajaro had bought 37,000 tons.

Buyers from two companies said they were struggling to get the bank guarantees necessary to fund cocoa purchases but both said they hoped the problem could be resolved quickly.

"If you don't get a bank to guarantee you Cocobod will not release the money (for purchases)," said Joshua Owusu, a district purchasing officer for CDH Commodities Ltd.

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