May 20, 2019 / 2:44 PM / 5 months ago

Ivory Coast dry spell worries cocoa farmers

ABIDJAN, May 20 (Reuters) - Below average rainfall last week in most of Ivory Coast’s cocoa growing regions, has raised concerns for the April-to-September mid-crop, farmers said on Monday.

The rainy season in the world’s top cocoa producer has been slow to start, and farmers fear the April-to-September mid-crop could be cut short due to the lack of rain.

Farmers said they were harvesting small-sized and low quality beans, and were hoping for better weather from now on, which would provide adequate moisture to produce enough good quality beans by August.

Farmers added there was a chance to save the mid-crop if rains started to be abundant from this week.

In the eastern region of Abengourou, farmers said cocoa trees need further downpours to yield in the next months.

“The trees are doing ok but farmers want abundant and regular rains for the mid-crop to end well,” said Marcel Kobenan, who farms near Abengourou.

Data collected by Reuters showed that rainfall in Abengourou, which includes the region of Aboisso, was at 20.8 millimetres (mm) last week, 18 mm below the five-year average.

Rainfall was also well below average in the western region of Soubre.

“The problem is the bean size. Other than that the trees are healthy,” said Koffi Kouame, a farmer and cooperative manager near Soubre.

Data showed that rainfall in Soubre, which includes the regions of Sassandra and San Pedro, was 7.3 mm last week, 32.9 mm below the five-year average.

Similar comments were reported in the southern regions of Agboville and Divo and in the centre-western region of Daloa.

“Many farmers are disappointed. There are few pods on the trees. The mid-crop won’t meet expectations,” said Albert N’Zue, who farms near Daloa.

Data showed that rainfall in Daloa, including the region of Bouafle, was 5.1 mm last week, 19.5 mm below the five-year average.

Similar conditions were reported in central regions of Bongouanou and Yamoussoukro, where rains were below average last week.

Average temperatures ranged between 26 and 29.1 degrees Celsius. (Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; editing by David Evans)

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