Ivory Coast rain sufficient for developing cocoa pods, say farmers

ABIDJAN, Aug 31 (Reuters) - Rainfall last week in most of Ivory Coast’s cocoa-growing regions was sufficient for the development of the October-to-March main crop even though rain levels remained below average, farmers said on Monday.

They said soil moisture content was supporting the crop, but more downpours interspersed with sun would be needed in September and October for a longer and larger harvest.

Some harvesting has already begun, but significant volumes will start leaving the bush from mid-September, they said.

In the centre-western region of Soubre, at the heart of the cocoa belt, farmers said they were praying for more rain.

“If we have good rain over the next two months, there will be a lot of fruit on the trees until at least February,” said Salame Kone, who farms near Soubre.

Data collected by Reuters showed rainfall in Soubre was 6.9 millimetres (mm) last week, 8.2 mm below the five-year average.

In the southern regions of Divo and Agboville and in the western region of Man, where rainfall was also below average, farmers said the cocoa outlook was good and the number of harvests per month was expected to jump to two from October compared with one in September.

In the centre-western region of Daloa, which produces a quarter of Ivory Coast’s output, some farmers also forecast abundant harvests from October thanks to the proliferation of big pods on trees.

Data collected by Reuters showed rainfall in Daloa was 16.8 mm last week, 11.4 mm below the five-year average.

Rainfall was also below average in the central regions of Bongouanou and Yamoussoukro while rainfall was above average in the eastern region of Abengourou.

Average temperatures over the past week ranged from 24.2 to 26.6 degrees Celsius across the country. (Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly Editing by David Goodman)