May 5, 2015 / 7:24 AM / 5 years ago

Abundant rain in Ivory Coast supports cocoa mid-crop

Women from a local cocoa farmers association called BLAYEYA spread cocoa beans to dry in Djangobo, Niable in eastern Ivory Coast, in a file photo. REUTERS/Thierry Gouegnon

ABIDJAN (Reuters) - Abundant rains last week in most of Ivory Coast’s main cocoa growing regions bode well for the April-to-September mid-crop but farmers said they feared cocoa diseases could damage production.

Ivory Coast is the world’s top producer of cocoa and in its southeastern region of Aboisso farmers reported several heavy rains this past week but expressed concern about pests.

“There are lots of insects in the plantations. Often they hinder the smooth working of the farms because farmers flee (when they are stung),” said farmer Etienne Yao, who farms in the outskirts of Aboisso.

In the western region of Duekoue, farmers said abundant rains were good for the growth of pods but slowed the drying of cocoa beans, which could lead to mould.

In the western region of Soubre, at the heart of the cocoa belt, an analyst reported 19.5 millimetres of rainfall last week, compared with 79 millimetres the previous week.

The pods will reach their peak in June but heavy rains damage the roads, making it harder to get the crop off the farms, said farmer Lazare Ake who works near Soubre.

Heavy rain and good growing conditions were reported in the southern regions of Agboville, Divo and Tiassale and the western regions of Gagnoa and Meagui but in the centre-west region of Daloa, which produces 25 percent of output, it was dry.

“It started raining heavily this morning. We need a lot to save the trees. Lots of trees became dry because of the long dry season,” farmer and cooperative manager Attoungbre Kouame said.

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