Pockets of rain in Ivory Coast offer slight reprieve for cocoa

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 09, 2015 2:49 PM

By Loucoumane Coulibaly

ABIDJAN (Reuters) - Farmers in Ivory Coast's southern and far western cocoa growing regions reported rainfall that will boost the up-coming mid-crop but other regions saw more dry weather, deepening concerns of a poor start to the secondary harvest.

Unusually hot, dry weather has led to smaller beans and fears that the April-September mid-crop could be delayed by up to two months.

Farmers say they need at least one good bout of rain per week until the end of the month to help develop the flowers and pods on the trees.

Reports from the southern region of Divo and the western region of Duekoue met these expectations.

"We have had a good mix of rain and sun," said Amara Kone, who farms in Duekoue. "The buds are not in danger and we will start the first harvests next month."

Amadou Diallo, who farms on the outskirts of Divo, said showers would ensure plenty of high quality cocoa from early on in the mid-crop.

However, farmers elsewhere in the world's top grower reported more of the hot, dry weather that has dogged the run-up to this year's mid-crop.

An analyst in Soubre, in the heart of the cocoa belt, reported no rainfall over the week, compared to 14 mm the week before.

"We need regular rain this month. Otherwise we will lose lots of cocoa and the beans will be small at the beginning of the mid-crop," said farmer Lazare Ake.

Farmers in the western region of Daloa, which produces a quarter of Ivory Coast's harvest, also reported a further dry spell.

"There is not enough moisture in the soil. If we get more of this heat without rain, the mid-crop will be shorter this year than last," said farmer Marcel Aka.

"There are young trees dying in places and there is the risk of a delay to the start of the harvest." he said.

(Writing by David Lewis; Editing by Joe Bavier and David Evans)