Heavy rain could damage Ivory Coast main cocoa crop, farmers say

Farmers break cocoa pods at a cocoa farm in Soubre, Ivory Coast January 6, 2021. REUTERS/Luc Gnago/File Photo

ABIDJAN, Sept 19 (Reuters) - Above-average rain across most of Ivory Coast's cocoa-growing regions last week could cause disease and damage the first beans of the October-to-March main crop in some areas, farmers said on Monday.

The world's top cocoa producer is in the midst of a rainy season that runs from April to mid-November, when rains are abundant and often heavy.

Several farmers said timid main crop harvests had started and would pick up next month.

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

Most were reluctant to sell right away as they were expecting the government to announce a higher market price in October.

Buyers were currently offering around 750 CFA francs ($1.15) per kilogram of cocoa beans, lower than the current market price of 850 CFA francs ($1.30) per kilogramme, they said.

In the western regions of Soubre and Man, and in the southern region of Divo, farmers feared heavy rain and high soil moisture content could trigger black pod disease.

The rain was also making it difficult to properly dry beans.

"It has rained too much. We do not need this amount of water now. It can bring black pod disease," said Alfred Koua, who farms near Soubre where 276.4 millimetres of rain fell last week, 258.7 mm above the five-year average.

But farmers in the southern region of Agboville and in the eastern region of Abengourou said growing conditions were good despite above-average rainfall.

Similar observations were made in the central regions of Daloa, Bongouanou and Yamoussoukro, where farmers said they expected abundant harvests from October to January.

The weather would helps crops be significant by February, they added.

"Rains are good and there will be many harvests between November and January," said Paul N'Guessan, who farms near Daloa, where 37.7 mm of rain fell last week, 8.2 mm above the average.

Average weekly temperatures ranged between 23.7 and 25.7 degrees Celsius.

($1 = 654.2500 CFA francs)

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com
Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly, Editing by Sofia Christensen and Ed Osmond

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.