May 13, 2019 / 1:01 PM / a month ago

Ivorian cocoa farmers hope for more rain to boost mid-crop

ABIDJAN (Reuters) - Ivory Coast’s cocoa mid-crop could be reduced in quality and length if abundant rain fails to arrive this month, farmers said on Monday, as cocoa regions continue to experience atypically dry weather.

FILE PHOTO: A farmer works on cocoa pods at a farm in Toumodi, Ivory Coast October 13, 2018. Picture taken October 13, 2018. REUTERS/Thierry Gouegnon

The rainy season in the world’s top cocoa producer has been slow to start, and farmers fear the April-to-September mid-crop could be cut short due to the lack of rain.

Some farmers said it was too early to be pessimistic as abundant rain from mid-May onward would still boost the crop. They said plenty of pods were being harvested and that they did not expect to see big beans before the end of June.

“It’s very hot, and we now need good rains for small pods to develop well,” said Basile Yoro, who farms near the western region of Soubre, at the heart of the cocoa belt.

“Many beans are being purchased in the bush,” said Yoro.

Data collected by Reuters showed that rainfall in Soubre, which includes the regions of Sassandra and San Pedro, was at 5.5 millimeters (mm) last week, 28.5 mm below the five-year average.

Similar forecasts were made in the southern regions of Agboville and Divo and in the eastern region of Abengourou, where rainfall was also below average.

But in the center-western region of Daloa, which produces a quarter of national output, farmers remained concerned by the weather.

“The great rains are late this year and it’s very hot. We worry the mid-crop won’t be abundant,” said Raphael Kouadio, who farms near Daloa.

Data showed that rainfall in Daloa, including the region of Bouafle, was at 9 mm last week, 15 mm below the five-year average.

Farmers reported similar conditions in the central regions of Bongouanou and Yamoussoukro.

Average temperatures ranged between 27.8 and 30.8 degrees Celsius.

Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly,; Editing by Sofia Christensen and Ed Osmond

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