June 4, 2018 / 3:24 PM / a year ago

Lack of rainfall in Ivory Coast could affect cocoa mid-crop

ABIDJAN (Reuters) - Weeks of below-average rainfall in parts of Ivory Coast’s main cocoa regions are raising concerns about the April-to-September mid-crop, farmers said on Monday.

FILE PHOTO: A worker holds cocoa beans at SAF CACAO, an export firm in San-Pedro, Ivory Coast January 29, 2016. REUTERS/Thierry Gouegnon/File Photo

The world’s top cocoa producer is in the midst of the rainy season, and downpours this month are expected to be heavy and regular. But farmers have been concerned about a lack of rain over the past weeks.

In the center-western region of Daloa, which produces a quarter of Ivory Coast’s national output, farmers complained about the dry weather.

“The farmers are worried. There are no good rains and it is hot,” said Raphael Kouame, who farms on the outskirts of Daloa.

“We need it to rain abundantly now, or else the small pods and cherelles could fall,” said Kouame.

Data collected by Reuters showed that rainfall in Daloa, including the region of Bouafle, totaled 6.3 millimeters (mm) last week, 20.3 mm below a five-year average.

Farmers faced similar conditions in the southern regions of Agboville and Divo, where rainfall last week totaled 17.8 mm for Agboville - 36 mm below average - and 30.4 mm for Divo - 8.2 mm below average.

In the eastern region of Abengourou, which includes the town of Aboisso, farmers said beans were small and that more rain was needed to boost crops.

Data showed that rainfall in Aboisso was at 20.7 mm last week, 31.6 mm below average.

Not everywhere was affected, however. In the western region of Soubre, at the heart of the cocoa belt, farmers said they expected an abundant mid-crop of the same quality as the previous year.

“The season is good. There is rain and sunshine,” said Salame Kone, who farms near Soubre.

“There is a wave of small and medium pods on trees. We will be harvesting in July and August,” Kone said.

Data showed that the region of Soubre, including San Pedro and Sassandra, received 57.1 mm of rainfall last week, 4.7 mm above average.

Temperatures across the Ivory Coast’s cocoa growing regions last week ranged from 25.4 to 29.5 degrees Celsius.

Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Editing by Sofia Christensen and Susan Fenton

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