Local cocoa farmers are concerned - and they have good reasons to be - prices have plunged to three-year lows as international buyers continued to weigh supply/demand forces ahead of the crucial harvest season.

Global production will exceed consumption by 221,000 tons in the 12 months starting in October, reversing last season’s shortage of 160,000 tons, according to KnowledgeCharts, a unit of Commodities Risk Analysis.

Some market analysts are even more concerned, forecasting a cocoa surplus of 250,000 tonnes for the 2016-2017 harvest.

"We are in front of two years of estimated surpluses, mainly on the back of very large West African crops, but also apparently stocks in Europe did not decline as much as expected," Carlos Mera, an analyst at Rabobank in London, said by e-mail.

“What can we do,” asked one local cocoa exporter. “We are price takers, we cannot influence anything, local buying price will drop, and so local supply will drop.”

He says that families that depend on cocoa will be hardest hit, as they come to terms with a potentially long dry spell.

“Cocoa is the backbone of our rural economy, thousands of families depend on us to buy their cocoa, if not it will be a big loss for them.

“We have no support, we cannot buy if we cannot sell, the government must do something to support these local farmers,” he said.

Solomon Islands has a long history of cultivating cocoa beans for export, but with very little value adding processors in country, the local market is often exposed to international shocks.

With Bloomberg.com