March 11, 2019 / 2:38 PM / in 9 days

Ivory Coast cocoa farmers hope for more rain to boost mid-crop

ABIDJAN, March 11 (Reuters) - Below average rainfall in most of Ivory Coast’s cocoa growing regions last week has raised concern about the April-to-September mid-crop, farmers said on Monday.

Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa producer, is entering the rainy season, which runs officially from mid-March to late October.

Farmers in the bush said there were plenty of pods on the trees to be harvested by June, but that abundant rainfall was needed for cherelles and small pods to develop, and the mid-crop’s harvest to extend until August.

In the centre-western region of Daloa, which produces a quarter of Ivory Coast’s output, farmers said moisture was needed to keep the trees healthy.

“There must be a good shower to revive the trees,” said Albert N’Zue, who farms near Daloa.

Data collected by Reuters showed rainfall in the region of Daloa, including the Bouafle region, was 0.3 mm last week, 14.5 mm below the five-year average.

In the eastern region of Abengourou, farmers said they were happy with rainfall despite the fact it was below average.

“Levels of rain were appreciated. It will help the beans develop into pods,” Sebastien Ehui, who farms near Abengourou, said. “There are plenty of ripe pods. Farmers are getting ready to start the mid-crop harvest as early as next week,” Ehui said

Rainfall in the region of Abengourou, which includes the region of Aboisso was at 14.8 millimeters (mm) last week, 0.5 mm below the five-year average.

In the western region of Soubre, farmers said the dry wind was mild compared with last week.

“We think there will be a lot of harvesting in the first three months of the mid-crop,” said Koffi Kouame, who farms near Soubre.

Rainfall in Soubre, including the regions of Sassandra and San Pedro, was 8.7 mm last week, 3.3 mm below the five-year average.

Rains were below average in other regions and farmers said they noticed little damage for now, but that better moisture would improve the crop’s size and quality.

Average temperatures were between 28.2 and 32.07 degrees Celsius. (Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Editing by Juliette Jabkhiro and Louise Heavens)

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