October 8, 2018 / 1:57 PM / 12 days ago

Ivorian cocoa farmers welcome dry spell ahead of main crop harvest

ABIDJAN, Oct 8 (Reuters) - Below average rainfall in most of Ivory Coast’s main cocoa regions last week is likely to boost harvests for the October-to-March main crop, farmers said on Monday.

The new marketing season in the world’s top cocoa producer opened on Oct. 1, with a guaranteed farmgate price of 750 CFA francs ($1.32) per kilogram set by the Coffee and Cocoa Council.

Farmers in most regions said the weather was good for harvesting, and one good shower per week until mid-November would be enough to ensure trees do not suffer during the dry season.

“It’s starting well. We see a lot of trucks loaded with cocoa. The cooperative’s shop is already filled with beans,” Raphael Kouame, who farms in the outskirts of the centre-western region of Daloa, said.

“We need a lot of sun to guarantee the quality of the beans and avoid disease,” Kouame said.

Data collected by Reuters showed rainfall in the Daloa region, which includes Bouafle, OF 21 millimetres (mm) last week, 6 mm below the five-year average.

In the western region of Soubre, at the heart of the cocoa belt, farmers said they were expecting the main crop to be long and healthy.

“There are a lot of small and medium size pods on the trees. It means the harvest will be good in January and afterward,” Salame Kone, who farms near Soubre, said.

Rainfall in Soubre, which includes the towns of Sassandra and San Pedro, totalled 12.4 mm last week, 9.6 mm below the five-year average.

But in the western region of Man, farmers said abundant rains could threaten harvests.

“We have trouble harvesting and drying the beans. It could create quality issues,” Abdoulaye Diomande, who farms near the western region of Duekoue, said.

Rainfall in Man, which includes Duekoue, reached 39.4 mm, 9.4 above the five-year average.

Good growing conditions were reported in other regions.

Rainfall was below average in the southern regions of Agboville and Divo, the eastern region of Abengourou and the central region of Yamoussoukro.

Average temperatures in the cocoa-growing regions ranged from 25 to 27.1 degrees Celsius.

$1 = 566.2000 CFA francs Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Editing by Juliette Jabkhiro and Mark Potter

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