April 15, 2019 / 2:27 PM / 8 days ago

Ivory Coast rains set to improve mid-crop cocoa quality - farmers

ABIDJAN, April 15 (Reuters) - Mixed rains fell over Ivory Coast’s cocoa-growing regions last week, farmers said on Monday, with more showers needed in some areas to boost the April-to-September mid-crop.

The rainy season in the world’s biggest cocoa producer runs from mid-March to late October, with heavy showers expected to begin this month.

Farmers said their harvests had so far been more abundant than last year and that a mix of showers and sunshine would yield a healthier mid-crop than the previous season.

In the western region of Soubre, at the heart of the cocoa belt, farmers said the weather would allow them to harvest twice a month until at least July.

“The mid-crop is good, we have already harvested many more beans than last year,” said Julien Beda, who farms near Soubre.

“Sunshine will be very important for the next stage (of the mid-crop).”

Rainfall in Soubre, which includes the regions of Sassandra and San Pedro, was at 27.5 millimetres (mm) last week, 8 mm above the five-year average.

Rainfall was also above average in the southern regions of Agboville and Divo, in the central region of Bongouanou, and in eastern region of Abengourou, and farmers said they expected large and high-quality beans if the weather remained constant.

But in the centre-western region of Daloa, which produces a quarter of the country’s output, farmers said more downpours were needed to boost the mid-crop.

“Buyers are complaining about the small (sized) beans coming from the bush,” said Albert N’Zue, who farms near Daloa.

“The weather is getting darker and darker. If it starts raining well soon, the mid-crop will finish beautifully,” N’Zue added.

Data collected by Reuters showed that rainfall in Daloa, including the region of Bouafle, was at 10.3 millimetres last week, 11.6 mm below the five-year average.

Rainfall was also below average in central region of Yamoussoukro and the western region of Man.

Average temperatures ranged between 27.6 and 30.9 degrees Celsius. (Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly Editing by Sofia Christensen and Jane Merriman)

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