February 19, 2018 / 3:02 PM / 10 months ago

Heat and lack of rain worries Ivory Coast cocoa farmers

ABIDJAN (Reuters) - Hot weather and below-average rainfall in most of Ivory Coast’s cocoa-growing regions last week raised concerns about the quality of the April-to-March mid-crop, farmers said on Monday.

FILE PHOTO: Cocoa pods are seen in a cocoa farm in Anyama, Ivory Coast, July 21, 2017. REUTERS/Luc Gnago/File Photo

The world’s top cocoa producer is the midst of a dry season that runs from November to March. A bout of rain earlier in the month caused many trees to blossom, but now regular rainfall is needed for the flowers to survive and small pods to develop.

In the western region of Soubre, in the heart of the cocoa belt, farmers said the heat was sapping soil moisture. Data collected by Reuters last week saw just 2.3 mm of rain, 4.8 mm below average.

“The mid-crop will yield small beans if it doesn’t rain a lot over the next few weeks,” said Lazare Ake, who farms in the outskirts of Soubre.

However, in the southern region of Divo, farmers said light showers last week would still help crops resist the hot weather.

“For the moment there have not been many losses. Trees are loaded with small pods and we hope the mid-crop will be as abundant as last year,” said Amadou Diallo, who farms near Divo.

Data collected by Reuters showed rainfall in Divo was at 4.9 mm last week, 4.7 mm below average.

Farmers in the southern regions of Adzope, Agboville and Tiassale also remained optimistic.

Similar growing conditions were reported in the center-western region of Daloa, producing a quarter of Ivory Coast’s national output, where data showed 1.2 mm of rain last week, 7.9 mm below the average.

Temperatures last week ranged between 28.35 and 32 degrees Celsius, compared to 27.9 and 31.7 degrees the previous week.

Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Editing by Sofia Christensen and David Evans

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