Ivorian cocoa prices little changed, activity flat
ABIDJAN Aug 8 (Reuters) - Cocoa farmgate prices in most of Ivory Coast's main growing regions barely changed last week, despite an increase in port prices, as buying was lacklustre in the annual holiday period, farmers and buyers said on Wednesday.
A purchasing manager at an Abidjan-based international cocoa export firm said the average price at the port of Abidjan was around 850 CFA francs ($1.61) per kilogramme, up from 760 CFA per kg the previous week.
"Prices were up due to the international market. But there isn't much activity. It's the holidays," the manager said, asking not to be named.
The average price at Ivory Coast's second port of San Pedro was about 850 CFA francs per kg, compared with 750 CFA the previous week.
Cocoa futures were steady on Wednesday, consolidating gains after both the London and New York markets hit multi-month highs the previous session, supported by bullish technical signals and concerns over the coming West African main crop.
ICE December cocoa futures were unchanged at $2,450 a tonne, after reaching a 5-1/2 month high of $2,457 on Tuesday. Liffe December cocoa futures were up 3 pounds at 1,661 pounds ($2,600) per tonne.
Farmers in the world's top cocoa-producing nation are now harvesting the 2011/12 mid-crop after a slow start due to months of dry weather.
Regular showers since the beginning of the rainy season in April had raised hopes of a robust start to the forthcoming main crop, which opens on Oct. 1.
Weeks of heavy rain and overcast weather have cut volumes and affected quality, however, and there are fears that an outbreak of fungal black pod disease in the past few weeks could affect early output from the crop.
In the western region of Soubre, in the heart of the Ivorian cocoa belt, farmers said the average price rose slightly to 500 to 550 CFA francs per kg, from around 500 CFA francs the previous week.
"The price is up a bit. There are a few local buyers coming from time to time to take the little cocoa there is in the villages," said Emile Konan, who farms near Soubre.
In the centre-western region of Daloa, which accounts for about a quarter of Ivory Coast's national output, farmers said the average price remained stable at around 500 CFA francs per kg.
"Most of the warehouses are closed. Activity is very weak. There are not many buyers offering an acceptable price," said farmer Attoungbre Kouame.
In the southern region of Aboisso, farmers said the average price was unchanged at 500 CFA francs per kg.
"It's still the same price. There isn't enough cocoa, and many of the buyers are away," said Jean Tano, who farms on the outskirts of Aboisso.
"We think that in about two weeks, when there is a bit of cocoa coming out, the buyers will be back to buying," he said. ($1 = 528.1460 CFA francs) ($1 = 0.6390 British pounds) (Editing by Joe Bavier and Jane Baird)
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