Abundant Ivory Coast rains expected to improve cocoa crop

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 06, 2016 12:07 PM

ABIDJAN (Reuters) - Abundant rain mixed with sunshine last week in most of Ivory Coast's main cocoa growing regions will help the April to September mid-crop finish strongly, although farmers in some areas feared humidity could cause diseases.

Ivory Coast, the world's top cocoa producer, is in its rainy season, with heavy downpours expected to continue until the end of June. A long dry season this year has lowered expectations of the mid-crop.

Farmers said there was plenty of rain this week, which would sharply improve the yield of cocoa trees from August onward.

In the western region of Soubre, at the heart of the cocoa belt, an analyst reported 64 millimeters of rain this week, compared with 30.5 mm during the previous week.

"There's a good mix of flowers and pods on the trees. Thanks to the good weather, many of the pods have turned into small fruits," said Lazare Ake, who farms in the outskirts of Soubre.

"The harvests are still small but we think they're going to start to climb toward the end of the month."

In the centre-western region of Daloa, which produces a quarter of Ivory Coast's national output, farmers reported at least three bouts of heavy rain mixed with sunshine last week.

"If this continues, we'll have a lot of quality cocoa in the months to come," said Raphael Kouadio, who farms near Daloa. 

Rain and good growing conditions were also reported in southern regions Agboville, Divo, and Tiassale, in western region Duekoue, in eastern region Abengourou, and in the coastal region Sassandra.

However, in Aboisso in the south, farmers said they feared disease after a period of overcast weather and heavy rain.

"We are afraid of insects and crop diseases because there's too much humidity in the bush," said Yao Etienne, who farms in the outskirts of Aboisso.

"We will have more beans starting in July because there are many large pods on the trees that are almost ripe."

(Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Editing by Nellie Peyton and David Evans)