June 10, 2019 / 3:01 PM / 3 months ago

Ivory Coast cocoa farmers fear lack of rain could hurt mid-crop

ABIDJAN, June 10 (Reuters) - Below-average rainfall in most of Ivory Coast’s cocoa growing regions last week could hurt the final stages of the April-to-September mid-crop, farmers said on Monday.

In the western region of Soubre, at the heart of the cocoa belt, farmers said that although drying conditions had improved, more moisture was needed to boost the mid-crop.

“We hope harvests will not end abruptly,” said Salame Kone, who farms near Soubre.

Data collected by Reuters showed that rainfall in Soubre, which includes the regions of Sassandra and San Pedro, was 45.1 mm last week, 9.6 mm below the five-year average.

Rains were also below average in the central regions of Bongouanou and Yamoussoukro. But farmers said green foliage indicated trees were ready to flower next month in preparation for the main crop.

“The mid-crop is drawing to an end. We are now going to focus on the buildup to the next main crop,” said Basile Assemian, who farms near Bongouanou.

Data showed rainfall in Bongouanou totalled 25 mm last week, 4.6 mm below the five-year average.

Similar conditions were reported in the southern regions of Agboville and Divo, where rainfall was also below average.

In the centre-western region of Daloa, which produces a quarter of national output, farmers welcomed a second week of rainfall after a prolonged period of drought.

“The humidity is good. Trees will have more vigour,” said Alphonse Konan, who farms near Daloa.

“There are only a few pods on trees. After two more harvests at the most, not much will be left,” Konan said.

Data showed that rainfall in Daloa, including the region of Bouafle, totalled 28 millimetres (mm) last week, 0.6 mm above average.

Average temperatures ranged between 26.08 and 28.62 degrees Celsius. (Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly Editing by Sofia Christensen and Susan Fenton)

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