September 17, 2018 / 12:20 PM / 3 months ago

Ivory Coast cocoa crop remains healthy despite humidity, say farmers

ABIDJAN, Sept 17 (Reuters) - Above average rainfall in most of Ivory Coast’s cocoa regions last week continued to boost the October-to-March main crop, farmers said on Monday, despite fears the humidity could impact bean drying.

Farmers said they were expecting an abundant crop this season and that harvesting, which started slowly in some areas, would pick up gradually over October and November.

In the western region of Man, which includes the town of Duekoue, farmers said the rain was making it difficult to dry beans properly.

“The rain is tiring us a bit. We worry the beans will not dry enough and become mouldy if there is not enough sunshine,” said Daouda Fofana, a farmer in the region.

Reuters data showed that Man had 79.6 millimetres (mm) of rain last week, 42.1 mm above the five-year average.

In the western region of Soubre, at the heart of the cocoa belt, farmers said trees were laden with good-sized cocoa pods to be harvested by the end of this year.

“We had good rains this month. If this continues in October, and if the sun shines, the crop yield will be very high,” said Kouassi Kouame, who farms near Soubre.

Soubre, which includes the towns of Sassandra and San Pedro, saw 32.6 mm of rain last week, 14.5 mm above average.

In the centre-western region of Daloa, which produces a quarter of Ivory Coast’s output, farmers said they expected the main crop to be more abundant than last season.

“It rained well this month, and we had sunshine, so we think we will have more cocoa than last season,” said Albert N’Zue, who farms near Daloa.

Daloa, which includes the town of Bouafle, saw 50.1 mm of rain last week, 19.5 mm above average.

Rainfall fell below average in the southern region of Agboville. But farmers welcomed this change, as they had feared the development of black pod disease.

“The brown rot situation has improved because rainfall has decreased and there is more sunshine,” said Alfred Bile, who farms near Agboville.

Agboville saw 10.4 millimetres mm of rain last week, 5.9 mm below the five-year average.

Reuters data showed the following levels of rainfall in other Ivory Coast cocoa producing regions last week:

* In the eastern region of Abengourou, which includes the town of Aboisso, rainfall was 21.5 mm , 3.4 mm above average.

* Rainfall was 23.3 mm in the southern region of Divo, 2.6 mm above average.

* Rainfall was at 21.1 mm in the central region of Yamoussoukro last week, 2.8 mm below average. Average temperatures in the cocoa-growing regions ranged from 24.6 to 26.25 degrees Celsius. (Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly Editing by Sofia Christensen and Kirsten Donovan)

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