May 14, 2018 / 3:02 PM / 4 months ago

Cocoa farmers in Ivory Coast concerned about intense rainfall

ABIDJAN (Reuters) - Above-average rainfall in some of Ivory Coast’s southern cocoa-growing regions last week could affect the quality of mid-crop harvests, farmers said on Monday.

The world’s top cocoa producer is in the midst of the rainy season, and authorities said they were bracing themselves for heavy downpours on some parts of the southern coast after two people died during a deluge in Abidjan last week.

Farmers in southern regions of Agboville and Aboisso said they feared the showers would damage the April-to-September mid-crop.

“The rains have become strong. If the intensity continues to rise we will lose flowers and small pods, which could reduce harvests at the end of the mid-crop,” said Vincent Yavo, who farms near Agboville.

Data collected by Reuters showed that rainfall in the region of Agboville reached 64 millimeters (mm) last week, more than double the 27.7 mm above average.

In the southern region of Aboisso, farmers said the wet weather was making it difficult to dry beans properly.

“If it continues this way or if the level of rain increases we will have a lot of moldy beans,” said Etienne Yao, who farms near Aboisso.

Data showed that rainfall in the region of Aboisso, which included Abengourou was at 64.1mm last week, also more than double its average of 30 mm.

But in the western region of Soubre, at the heart of the cocoa belt, farmers said that just above average rainfall would boost the the development of pods to be harvested over the coming months.

“Cocoa continues to come out abundantly and the size of beans here is very good,” said Salame Kone, who farms on the outskirts of Soubre.

Data showed that rainfall in Soubre, including San Pedro and Sassandra, reached 36.9 millimeters mm last week, 2 mm above average.

In the centre-western region of Daloa, which produces a quarter of Ivory Coast’s national output and where rainfall was also only a little above average, farmers welcomed more rain.

“Flowers are still blossoming. If we have at least two showers per week there will be a lot of cocoa towards the end of the mid-crop,” said Albert N’Zue, who farms near Daloa.

Data showed that rainfall in Daloa region was at 21.8 mm last week, 2.3 mm below average.

Aside the western region of Man, temperatures throughout the country rose above average last week, ranging from 26.3 to 29.4 degrees Celsius. 

Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Editing by Sofia Christensen and Tim Cocks

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