May 6, 2019 / 2:26 PM / in 15 days

Ivory Coast rains boost cocoa crop after dry spell: farmers

ABIDJAN (Reuters) - Rainfall increased over most of Ivory Coast’s cocoa-growing regions last week, farmers said on Monday, raising hopes for a recovery in growth after the mid-crop suffered from atypically dry weather last month.

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 runs from mid-March to late October, but the season has been slow to start. Farmers feared the April-to-September mid-crop would be cut short due to a lack of rain last month.

Farmers on Monday said they were happy as rainfall levels, while still below seasonal averages, were higher than in previous weeks. They expect rains to be more abundant in May and June, boosting the end of the mid-crop.

They said plenty of beans were now leaving the bush, although many of those delivered remained small in size.

“The rain is improving, it’s good for the trees and for the rest of the mid-crop,” said Herve Konan, who farms near the center-western region of Daloa, source of a quarter of national output.

“The trees need abundant rains until June,” said Konan.

Data collected by Reuters showed that rainfall in Daloa, including the region of Bouafle, was at 18.3 millimeters last week, 5.7 mm below the five-year average.

Similar conditions were reported in the central regions of Bongouanou and Yamoussoukro.

In the western region of Soubre, at the heart of the cocoa belt, farmers said the mid-crop was likely to be as healthy as last year.

“There are good harvests and there are still many small pods on trees, and even flowers,” said Kouassi Kouame, who farms near Soubre.

Data showed that rainfall in Soubre, which includes the regions of Sassandra and San Pedro, was at 27.4 mm last week, 1.4 mm below the five-year average.

Farmers in the southern regions of Agboville and Divo also said the mid-crop would improve if enough rain fell in May and June.

In the eastern region of Abengourou, known for the quality of its beans, farmers said the mid-crop was now developing well.

“Everything is going well. We have a lot of cocoa but harvests will slow after June,” said Djue Amani, who farms near Abengourou.

Data collected showed that rainfall in Abengourou, which includes the region of Aboisso, was at 26.5 mm last week, 2.8 mm below average.

Average temperatures ranged between 26.6 and 29.7 degrees Celsius.

Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Editing by Sofia Christensen and Jan Harvey

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