Rainfall in Ivory Coast gives cocoa farmers hope over mid-crop

ABIDJAN, March 9 (Reuters) - Above average rainfall last week in several areas of Ivory Coast’s cocoa-growing regions could boost the April-to-September mid-crop, farmers said on Monday.

Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa producer, is in its dry season from November to March, when downpour is scarce or poor. Farmers in villages said the October-to-March main crop was tailing off.

In the central regions of Daloa, Bongouanou and Yamoussoukro, farmers reported improved moisture last week, adding they were now expecting abundant rainfall until late April, which would boost harvesting in June and July and make for a mid-crop strong finish in August and September.

In the centre-western region of Daloa, farmers welcomed the rainfall after the drought of the past few weeks that affected the mid-crop’s size.

“We are happy because the trees will be able to recover,” said Albert N’Zue, who farms near Daloa.

Data collected by Reuters showed rainfall in Daloa was at 18.5 millimetres (mm) last week, 4 mm above the five-year average.

Although rainfall was below average in the central regions of Bongouanou and Yamoussoukro, severely hit by the dryness in the past weeks, farmers said they were happy to notice an improvement in the levels of rainfall.

Bongouanou received 7.8 mm last week, 6 mm below average, while Yamoussoukro received 7.5 mm last week, 5.7 mm below average.

In the eastern region of Abengourou, farmers said last week’s abundant rains would help plenty of pods be ready for harvesting in May.

“If the rains continue falling, the mid-crop won’t be deceiving here,” said Sylvain Bia, who farms near Abengourou. Data showed rainfall in Abengourou was 32.3 mm last week, 17.6 mm above the average.

Farmers had the same comments in the western region of Soubre, where 13.6 mm of rainfall fell last week, 2.1 mm above average.

Farmers were also confident in the southern region of Agboville which received 16.1 mm last week, 1.4 mm above average.

The southern region of Divo received 9.5 mm last week, 6.2 mm below average but farmers said the crop was not in danger.

Temperatures over the past week ranged from 27.6 to 31.7 degrees Celsius. (Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Editing by Juliette Jabkhiro and Louise Heavens)