Rains lift hopes for Ivorian cocoa midcrop

ABIDJAN Mon Feb 20, 2012 11:23am EST

ABIDJAN (Reuters) - Rains picked up in Ivory Coast's main cocoa growing regions last week, lifting hopes for healthier production volumes during the April-to-September midcrop, farmers and analysts said on Monday.

Dry, windy weather has crimped output so far this season, with volumes already down about 8 percent from last year, according to exporter estimates.

"We are happy. There is some hope for the cocoa," said Lazard Ake, a farmer on the outskirts of the western town of Soubre where analysts reported 40 mm of rain last week.

"It is a good rain that will allow the trees to flower for the midcrop," he said.

In the centre-western region of Daloa, which produces a quarter of Ivory Coast's national output, farmers reported one significant downpour last week.

"This rain will help the trees survive. The long dry spell has killed a lot of trees," said Attoungbre Kouame.

Similar growing conditions were reported in the southern region of Aboisso.

In the eastern region of Abengourou, analysts reported 15 mm of rain last week. Farmers said they were happy but plantations needed more rainfall to brighten the crop prospects in the region after a long period of drought.

"We got some rain, but we need more in the coming weeks so the plantations are in good condition to grow pods," said farmer Michel Koffi. "We think that if it starts to rain well, the cocoa will start to come out well from June."

(Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Editing by Richard Valdmanis)

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