Heavy rain in Ivory Coast raises flooding fears in cocoa areas

ABIDJAN (Reuters) - Abundant rainfall fell last week in most of Ivory Coast’s main cocoa growing regions, sparking fears that flooding could hinder harvesting of what is otherwise expected to be a strong mid-crop, farmers said on Monday.

The mid-crop marketing season opened on April 1. The world’s top cocoa grower is now in its rainy season and heavy downpours are expected over the coming weeks.

“The soil is very wet. If that continues there will be flooding and we will lose a lot of cocoa,” said Etienne Yao, who farms on the outskirts of Aboisso in the southeast.

It rained most of the week in the southern region of Divo.

“We hope there will still be some sunshine, otherwise there will be damage in the plantations,” said farmer Amadou Diallo.

Regular heavy rain was also reported in the southern regions of Agboville and Tiassale.

In the western region of Soubre, at the heart of the cocoa belt, farmers reported a good mix of two rain showers interspersed with periods of sunshine.

“Conditions are good and more and more beans are coming out of the bush,” said Lazare Ake, who farms near Soubre. “There will be a break in harvesting around a month from now because a lot of pods are ripening at the same time.”

In the centre-western region of Daloa, which account for about a quarter of national output, farmers reported patchy rainfall and sunny spells.

Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Editing by Joe Bavier and David Evans