October 28, 2019 / 3:33 PM / 18 days ago

Ivory Coast farmers worry about impact of heavy rains on cocoa crop

ABIDJAN, Oct 28 (Reuters) - Above-average rains in most of Ivory Coast’s cocoa growing regions last week have raised concerns about the quality of the beans because of high moisture levels, farmers said on Monday.

The marketing season in Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa producer, opened in early October with a new farmgate price of 825 CFA francs ($1.40) per kg set by the government.

Farmers said harvesting was rapidly picking up and large amounts of beans have left the bush but buyers were still unhappy with the quality of the crop, as the beans were too humid and sometimes moldy.

Farmers said the high levels of moisture were promising for a healthy harvest in February and March but drier, sunnier weather in November would be crucial for the quality of the main crop.

“The rains need to diminish a lot because there are plenty of beans in the bush that could rot,” said Paul Allangba, who farms in the outskirts of the central region of Yamoussoukro.

Data collected by Reuters showed rainfall in Yamoussoukro, was 62.8 millimetres (mm) last week, 46.8 mm above the five-year average.

Similar conditions and the need for more sunny spells next month were reported in the central region of Bongouanou where rainfall was 55.1 mm last week, 38.7 mm above average.

In the southern region of Divo, rainfall was 51.1 mm last week, 30.3 mm above average and in the southern region of Agboville, rainfall was 38.6 mm, 14.8 mm above average.

In the western region of Soubre farmers said they were happy as plantations have received more downpours before the start of the dry season in November when moisture is poor or scarce.

“Harvests will be plentiful in the next months because the weather conditions are better this year before the beginning of the dry season,” said Kouassi Kouame, who farms near Soubre.

Data showed rainfall in Soubre, which includes the regions of San Pedro and Sassandra, was 37.9 mm last week, 17.9 mm above the five-year average.

Farmers reported some damage due to black pod disease but were optimistic about the prospects for the main crop in the centre-western region of Daloa, which produces a quarter of Ivory Coast’s cocoa.

Data showed rainfall in the region of Daloa, which includes the region of Bouafle, was 38.9 mm last week, 23.4 mm above the five-year average.

Average temperatures ranged from 25.4 to 26.9 Celsius (77.7 to 80.4 degrees Fahrenheit) ($1 = 588.0000 CFA francs) (Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Editing by Juliette Jabkhiro and David Clarke)

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