June 11, 2018 / 11:49 AM / 5 months ago

Lack of rain in Ivory Coast could reduce mid-crop cocoa harvests

ABIDJAN, June 11 (Reuters) - Insufficient rainfall in most of Ivory Coast’s main cocoa growing regions could reduce the size of harvests during the last stages of the mid-crop, farmers said on Monday.

Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa producer, is in the midst of the rainy season, during which downpours are expected to be heavy and regular. But rain has been scarce in many parts of the country, raising concerns for the final stages of the April-to-September mid-crop.

In the centre-western region of Daloa, which produces a quarter of Ivory Coast’s national output, farmers feared the lack of rain would stem cocoa output in August and September.

“If the weather continues to be this dry, trees will not yield many beans in the final two months of the mid-crop,” said Albert N’Zue, who farms on the outskirts of Daloa, adding that supplies could start dwindling by July.

Data collected by Reuters showed that rainfall in Daloa, including the region of Bouafle, totalled 5.6 millimetres (mm) last week, 21.9 mm below the five-year average.

Rainfall was also low in the southern regions of Agboville and Divo, although farmers there said the soil moisture content was enough to sustain trees.

Data showed that rainfall in Agboville was at 20.6 mm last week, 37.7 mm below average, while in Divo rainfall totalled 19.6 mm, 20.7 mm below average.

Rainfall in the south eastern region of Aboisso, which includes Abengourou, was 18.8 mm last week, 37.7 mm below average.

Yet farmers said some low-lying plantations flooded last week due to heavy localised showers.

“We were unable to dry (the fields) up, everything overflowed. Rivers rose over their beds and there was no road,” said Etienne Yao, who farms in the outskirts of Aboisso.

“But there are still enough pods on the trees,” added Yao.

In the western region of Soubre, at the heart of the cocoa belt, farmers were satisfied with rainfall and confident the mid-crop would finish strongly.

“There will be a lot of cocoa towards the end because there are many small pods on the trees,” said Lazare Ake, who farms near Soubre.

Data showed the region of Soubre, including San Pedro and Sassandra, received 78.5 mm of rainfall last week, 23.6 mm above average. (Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly Editing by Sofia Christensen/David Evans)

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