ABIDJAN Persistent hot and dry weather in most of Ivory Coast's main cocoa regions has damaged trees and could reduce the quality of beans and the size of the mid-crop, farmers said on Monday.
Ivory Coast's dry season runs from mid-November to March but farmers still rely on periodic showers to aid the development of the April-to-September mid-crop.
This year dry weather and seasonal Harmattan winds -- which blow in from the Sahara and can sap soil moisture and reduce the size of beans -- have been unusually strong in most regions.
In the eastern region of Abengourou, known for the quality of its beans, farmers said Harmattan winds continued to rage and bush fires had destroyed several plantations.
N’Dri Kouao, who farms near Niable, close to the border with Ghana, was worried that farmers would not have enough beans to sell in the coming three months because of the lack of rain.
"There is practically no more flowers and young fruits on the trees," said Kouao.
In the western region of Soubre, in the heart of the cocoa belt, farmers reported no rain last week and were concerned about poor soil moisture.
"If it doesn't rain before the end of this month, that will be the end of the mid-crop because the trees are very worn out and will not be able to produce beans of good quality," said Lazare Ake, who farms on the outskirts of Soubre.
In the center-western region Daloa, which produces a quarter of Ivory Coast's national output, farmers said the dry weather had damaged many trees.
Similar growing conditions were reported in the southern regions of Aboisso, Agboville and Divo.
(Writing by Makini Brice, editing by David Evans)