Heavy rains threaten Ivory Coast cocoa mid-crop
ABIDJAN, April 18 (Reuters) - Heavy rain in several of Ivory Coast's main cocoa growing regions last week has raised fears of lower production during the April-September mid-crop due to falling pods and disease, farmers said on Tuesday.
The mid-crop marketing season in Ivory Coast, the world's top producer, opened on April 1 with a guaranteed farmgate price of 700 CFA francs ($1.13) per kilogramme, which the government slashed by 36 percent last month.
"The rain falls heavily on the trees. There is a risk that the flowers and the cherelles will drop from the trees and reduce the harvest," said Amare Kone, who farms on the outskirts of the western town of Duekoue.
"We are experiencing drying problems because the humidity is very strong in the bush," Kone said.
In Soubre, in the heart of the cocoa belt, farmers reported at least two downpours in the past week.
"We need lots of sunshine because there is too much humidity under the trees. Otherwise, there will be diseases and insects soon," said Kouassi Kouame, who farms on the outskirts of Soubre.
"We see on the trees a mix of lots of cherelles and medium-sized pods that can assure a long harvest," Kouame said.
In the centre-western region of Daloa, which accounts for about a quarter of national output, farmers reported good rainfall that boosts yields though complicates transportation.
"There is a proliferation of cherelles on the trees in certain areas. We expect large harvests between June and July," said Albert N'Zue, who farms near Daloa. Continued...