June 18, 2012 / 2:43 PM / 7 years ago

Ivory Coast rains mixed for cocoa, disease a worry

ABIDJAN, June 18 (Reuters) - Abundant rains last week in Ivory Coast’s southern and western cocoa regions renewed concerns about disease and flooding while downpours were seen helping what is left of the mid-crop elsewhere, farmers and analysts said on Monday.

The April to September mid-crop in the world’s top cocoa-producing nation made a slow start after a five-month dry spell carried into March and lowered expectations for the harvest as a whole. Latest port arrival estimates showed the season trailing on last year.

In the western region of Daloa, which accounts for a quarter of Ivory Coast’s total output, farmers reported two abundant rains in the spell that could strengthen cocoa plants there.

“The rain pattern is good. If it carries on and we get some sun there won’t be any problems,” said small-holder Abel Konan.

In the southeastern region of Aboisso, one analyst reported 201 mm of rain during five days last week, compared with 40 mm the previous week and 227 mm before that.

Farmers there said the damp weather risked triggering diseases and flooding in some plantations.

“We really need some sun because we have got a lot of flooding. If not, insects will start attacking the plantations,” said farmer Patrice Konan who farms near Aboisso.

In the western region of Soubre, in the heart of the cocoa belt, 97 mm of rainfall was reported last week compared with 60 mm the previous week, sparking fears of the emergence of the humidity-linked fungal disease black pod.

Similar conditions were seen in southern region of Agboville and Divo and in western regions of Gagnoa, Meagui and Duekoue.

However in the eastern region of Abengourou, one analyst reported just 10 mm of rainfall last week, down from 47mm the week before and 139 mm the week before. Farmer Kan Kouakou said the rains came at the right time.

“The plantations got a good watering. Flowers are continuing to come out and the buds are gaining in size. They are encouraging signs,” he said. (Reporting By Loucoumane Coulibaly; Editing by Anthony Barker)

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