Ivorian cocoa farmers fear lack of rain could impact mid-crop

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Below-average rainfall in Ivory Coast last week could affect cocoa production, farmers said on Tuesday, as good soil moisture content mitigated the impact of dry weather in several growing regions. 

The rainy season in the world’s top cocoa producer runs from mid-March to late October, with heavy showers expected to begin this month. 

Farmers up country said harvests for the April-to-September mid-crop had picked up despite the lack of rain, and that drying conditions were good. They said large volumes of beans were expected to leave the bush in May and June. 

In the western region of Soubre, at the heart of the cocoa belt, farmers said soil moisture content was sustaining their crops and that trees were laden with varying-sized pods. 

“The trees are doing well. We still have a lot of harvesting to do,” said Kouassi Kouame, who farms near Soubre. 

“If rains are good in May and June, the beans will grow a lot around August,” said Kouame. 

Data collected by Reuters showed rainfall in Soubre, which includes the regions of Sassandra and San Pedro, was at 6.2 millimetres (mm) last week, 15.8 mm below the five-year average. 

Rainfall was also below average in the southern regions of Agboville and Divo, and in the eastern region of Abengourou. 

But in the centre-western region of Daloa, which produces a quarter of national output, farmers said the weather could impact the mid-crop’s size and quality. 

“It has not rained well in a while. The mid-crop could be shorter and the beans could be smaller,” said Benoit Aka, who farms near Daloa. 

“Beans are small at the moment, and we fear this will last due to the lack of good rain,” said Aka. 

Rainfall in Daloa, including the region of Bouafle, was at 2.9 millimetres last week, 20.5 mm below the five-year average. 

Rainfall was also below average in the central regions of Bongouanou and Yamoussoukro, and in the western region of Man, where similar conditions were reported. 

Average temperatures ranged between 27.8 and 31.5 degrees Celsius. – Reuters

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