Ivory Coast cocoa farmers upbeat despite below-average rains

A farmer prepares to collect a cocoa pod at a cocoa farm in Alepe, Ivory Coast December 7, 2020. REUTERS/Luc Gnago/File Photo

ABIDJAN, Aug 8 (Reuters) - Good soil moisture content in Ivory Coast’s cocoa regions is helping pods develop well on trees, making for a strong start for the October-to-March main crop despite below-average rains in most areas, farmers said on Monday.

Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa producer, is in its rainy season that runs from April-to-mid-November, when rains are usually more abundant and sometimes heavy.

Upland, most farmers said there was no sign of disease on the plantations, where they expect harvesting to increase from September. More rain will be needed in September and October to help the crop be strong from November to at least January, they said.

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"Everything's going well for the main crop. We expect lots of cocoa from October," said Marcel Alleba, who farms near the western region of Soubre, where 11 millimetres (mm) of rain fell last week, 0.7 mm below the five-year average.

In the southern regions of Agboville and Divo and in the eastern region of Abengourou rains were also below-average last week. Farmers there said the main crop was promising and the April-to-September mid-crop would finish strong as plenty of almost-ripe pods would be harvested from late August to September.

The centre-western region of Daloa and the central regions of Bongouanou and Yamoussoukro also saw less than average rain.

"It's still cool. The trees need more heat to produce well," said Eugene Miena, who farms near Daloa, where 10.1 mm fell last week, 10 mm below the average.

Weekly average temperatures ranged from 23 to 24 degrees Celsius.

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Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly Editing by Alessandra Prentice and Mark Potter

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