By Chijioke Ohuocha
ABUJA, Dec 10 (Reuters) - Weak yield from Nigeria's cocoa main crop harvest led to a drop in country's overall output for the 2017/18 season with heavy rains in some regions and aging trees partly to blame, an industry body told Reuters.
Total output for the season is expected to come in between 250,000 tonnes and 260,000 tonnes, compared with a growth of about 320,000 tonnes forecast at the start of the season, Sayina Riman, president of the Cocoa Association of Nigeria (CAN), said.
The output is lower than 290,000 tonnes, revised during the mid-crop season where a healthy mix of rainfall and sunshine had boost optimism after a draught.
The International Cocoa Organization (ICCO) has forecast the output at 260,000 tonnes for 2017/18 season.
The cocoa season in Nigeria, the world's fourth-biggest producer, runs between October and September, with an October-to-February main crop and a smaller light- or mid-crop that begins in April and runs through September.
Output had been expected to rebound this season, Riman, who farms on a 170-hectare cocoa plantation in Nigeria's second-biggest region of Cross Rivers, said after draught cut last season's output to about 260,000 tonnes.
"The year was really promising but it fell short of expectations. The main crop harvest has been devastating," Riman said.
Flash floods during the year destroyed farm lands in Nigeria's second-biggest region, which affected the drying season for beans, Riman said, adding that yields were also abysmal due to older trees and low use of fertilisers.
"In Cross River, most of the farms were flooded. Flash floods destroyed the crops. We lost almost 95 percent of the yields in that areas," he said.
ICCO had trimmed its forecast last month for the size of global cocoa surplus in the 2017/18 season and cut estimate of global production. (Reporting by Chijioke Ohuocha, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)
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