Scarce rain in Ivory Coast's cocoa regions, mild Harmattan winds

ABIDJAN (Reuters) - Ivory Coast’s cocoa-growing regions received scarce rainfall and mild Harmattan wind last week, with no threat to the crop being harvested, farmers told Reuters on Monday.

Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa producer, is in its dry season, which runs from November to March when rain tends to be scarce or light.

Farmers in the central regions of Bongouanou and Yamoussoukro, where there was no rainfall, said pods were developing well thanks to good soil moisture content. They said cocoa trees were showing no sign of weakness.

“The Harmattan wind is very weak. If it stays that way, it will be good for the trees and next year’s harvests,” said Alain Tiemele, who farms in the central region of Bongouanou.

The Harmattan winds sweep in sand from the Sahara and can ravage cocoa pods and sap soil moisture, damaging bean size.

No rain fell in the centre-western region of Daloa, but farmers said good rainfall in the next two weeks would help boost the crop.

“There are a lot of pods growing. If we have a good shower in the next couple of weeks it would help boost the crop,” said Roger Amani, who farms near Daloa.

Data collected by Reuters showed rainfall in the southern region of Divo was at 1.7 millimetres (mm) last week, 3.4 mm below the five-year average. Farmers there and in the southern region of Agboville, where rainfall was poor as well, remained optimistic about the January and February outlook.

In the western region of Soubre, which includes the regions of San Pedro and Sassandra, rainfall was at 2.8 mm last week, 4.9 mm below the five-year average.

But farmers there said the moisture levels were good enough to help boost the trees.

“It’s alright, the pods will grow bigger,” said Salame Kone, who farms near Soubre.

Temperatures on average ranged from 26.8 to 28.8 Celsius.

Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Editing by Juliette Jabkhiro and Edmund Blair