Drought risks hurting Ivorian cocoa output
ABIDJAN (Reuters) - Lack of rains coupled with hot weather last week in most of Ivory Coast's cocoa growing regions extended a dry season that could trim cocoa output as the top grower enters the last stage of its main crop harvest, farmers said on Monday.
The lack of rains could also delay the start of and hurt the quality of the April-September mid-crop.
An unusually long season of the dry harmattan winds since November has undermined Ivorian cocoa production during the tail-end of the main crop.
In the centre-western region of Daloa, which produces about a quarter of Ivory Coast's national output, farmers reported no showers during the week.
Farmers, who need abundant rainfall and spells of sunny weather to grow cocoa, the main ingredient for making chocolate, said the long dry spell had killed many young trees in the region.
"There are no rains and it is very hot. This is not good for the rest of the cocoa season," said Marcel Aka, who farms near Daloa.
"Many young trees have died due to the long drought and dry wind. They will have to be replanted when it rains again. But many farmers are discouraged because they will not have any cocoa for many months," Aka said.
In the western region of Soubre, at the heart of the Ivorian cocoa belt, farmers said the lack of rain could reduce the bean size, making it difficult to get export-quality beans as from February.
"There are little or no pods on trees and farmers will not have enough good quality beans to sell to exporters in the coming weeks," said Salam Kone, who farms near Soubre.
In the southern region of Divo, farmers said the mid-crop would be delayed in the region as many trees have lost their leaves after the prolonged drought.
"The mid-crop will start a bit later because the trees will need to regenerate their leaves first. We hope the rains will start as soon as possible. If not, the wait could be long," said Amadou Diallo who farms in the area.
Similar growing conditions were reported in the eastern region of Abengourou and in western regions of Bouafle and Gagnoa.