Ivory Coast farmers expect strong start to cocoa main crop after rain

ABIDJAN, Sept 30 (Reuters) - Ivory Coast cocoa farmers predicted a strong start to the October-to-March main crop on Monday after above average rains in most of the growing regions last week.

The marketing season starts next month in the world’s top cocoa producer and farmers said they were waiting for the new government-set farmgate price, expected to be higher than last season, to sell their beans.

A mix of rainfall and sunny spells would help beans dry properly and strengthen the development of pods for harvests next year, they said.

“There is cocoa everywhere. Farmers are just waiting for the new farmgate price to sell,” said Amidou Toure, who farms near the western region of Duekoue.

“This year trees have produced lots of pods,” Toure said. “The main crop is promising.”

Data collected by Reuters showed rainfall in the western region of Man, which includes the region of Duekoue was at 41.1 millimetres (mm) last week, 7.1 mm above the five-year average.

In the centre-western region of Daloa, producing a quarter of Ivory Coast’s national output, farmers said they were cutting pods hit by the black disease to avoid contamination.

“We will have lots of beans until at least December,” said Albert N’Zue, who farms near Daloa. “But if the weather is too wet in October we can lose a lot to the black pods disease.”

Rainfall in the region of Daloa, which includes Bouafle, was 37.9 mm last week, 8.1 mm above the five-year average.

Similar comments were reported in the eastern region of Abengourou where rainfall was slightly below average and in the southern regions of Agboville and Divo, where it was above average.

In the central regions of Bongouanou and Yamoussoukro farmers remained upbeat on the main crop prospects.

In the western region of Soubre farmers said they were hoping for sunny spells in October to ensure good quality beans.

Data showed rainfall in Soubre, which includes the regions of San Pedro and Sassandra, was 24 mm last week, 2.9 mm above the five-year average.

Average temperatures ranged from 25.2 to 27.1 Celsius. (Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Editing by Juliette Jabkhiro and Alexander Smith)