Ivory Coast weather supports cocoa, political turmoil weighs

ABIDJAN, Nov 2 (Reuters) - Above average rainfall last week in Ivory Coast’s cocoa growing regions is expected to boost the yield of the October-to-March main crop, farmers said on Monday.

But fears of political turmoil after Saturday’s disputed presidential election in the world’s top cocoa growing region kept farmers away from plantations and slowed purchases.

Farmers said they were happy with weather so far, which could help trees through the dry season which runs from mid-November until March when rains are poor or scarce.

Some, however, said they were afraid to go to their farms to care for their cocoa plants after the election, which was boycotted by several parties. “Everything is in slow motion here. We haven’t been in the bush for four days, and there are no buyers due to the tensions between the communities,” said Lambert Aka, who farms near the eastern region of Abengourou, known for the good quality of its beans.

Data collected by Reuters showed rainfall in Abengourou was 64.2 millimetres (mm), 41.3 mm above the five-year average. In the west central region of Daloa, which produces a quarter of national output, and where rainfall was below average, farmers also said they were staying at home because of the risk of violence. In the southern regions of Agboville and Divo, farmers warned that bean quality could suffer because of the lack of access to plantations.

“It is raining heavily. If we don’t go to the farms regularly to take good care of the pods and beans, there will be a lot of mold in the next deliveries,” said Andre N’Dori, who farms near Agboville, where 101.5mm fell last week, 78.7 mm above the average.

In the central regions of Bongouanou and Yamoussoukro, farmers said growing conditions were good but buyers were reluctant to come with clashes between communities increasing in recent weeks.

Average daily temperatures in Ivory Coast ranged from 26.3 to 29.5 degrees Celsius last week. (Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly Writing by Bate Felix, Kirsten Donovan)