ABIDJAN, Dec 30 (Reuters) - There was no rain last week in most of Ivory Coast’s cocoa-growing regions, but late and mild Harmattan winds this year have boosted expectations of strong harvests during the first two months of 2020, farmers said on Monday.
Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa producer, is in its dry season, which runs from November to March, when rain tends to be scarce or light.
Farmers told Reuters that cocoa trees were doing well, soil moisture content was still high, and that they were happy with the size of December’s harvest.
Harmattan winds sweep in sand from the Sahara and can ravage cocoa pods and sap soil moisture, damaging bean size.
Farmers in the central regions reported a mild Harmattan, while farmers in the southern and coastal regions said the air was clearing.
“We think that we will have lots of beans next year because the soil is less dry than last year during the same period,” said Albert N’Zue, who farms in the centre-western region of Daloa, which produces a quarter of Ivory Coast’s cocoa.
In the central regions of Bongouanou and Yamoussoukro, farmers said they hoped the mild Harmattan would help them harvest large beans next year.
In the western region of Soubre, at the heart of the cocoa belt, farmers said production would start to diminish by mid-January but that significant volumes would continue to leave the bush.
“The harvests are going to fall a little in January. But it’s going to fall off brusquely,” said Kouassi Kouame, who farms near Soubre.
Farmers reported similar conditions in the eastern region of Abengourou and in the southern regions of Agboville and Divo.
Temperatures across cocoa-growing regions ranged on average from 26 to 28.3 Celsius. (Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Editing by Aaron Ross and Susan Fenton)