Strong Harmattan conditions seen in West Africa cocoa area - report

A worker holds cocoa beans at a village in N'Douci, Ivory Coast, File. REUTERS/Luc Gnago

NEW YORK, Feb 16 (Reuters) - Strong Harmattan conditions have been registered over the hinterlands of Ivory Coast and Ghana, the world's two largest producers of cocoa, and also over southwest Nigeria, damaging the tree canopy, Climate42 said in a report on Wednesday.

Harmattan is a climatic occurrence characterized by very dry and strong winds blown from the Sahara region towards the West of Africa. It usually happens between December and March and can impact cocoa production prospects in the region.

"The coastal regions of Ivory Coast and Ghana should see a deterioration of the canopy and below-average setting until rains resume – but no net losses of pods," said Climate42.

"The main crop's last arrivals should not suffer any significant losses. However, the mid-crop lost some potential for the June-early August arrivals and new setting is expected to be extremely low until rains resume," it added.

In most of Cameroon and east Nigeria the Harmattan did not hit the trees in a significant way, the report said.

The forecaster said that with the trees more sensitive to environmental stress, any new Harmattan event could weaken them and "leave a deeper mark on the mid-crop".

Reporting by Marcelo Teixeira; Editing by Alison Williams

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