March 18, 2019 / 2:07 PM / 3 months ago

Mixed rain news in Ivory Coast raises concerns over cocoa mid-crop

ABIDJAN, March 18 (Reuters) - Abundant showers in most of Ivory Coast’s cocoa regions last week augured well for the April-to-September mid-crop, farmers said on Monday, despite concerns over below-average rainfall in the centre of the country.

Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa producer, is entering the rainy season, which runs from mid March to late October.

Farmers in the bush said harvests would pick up next month, and beans were already larger than this time last season.

They also said the current mix of flowers, small pods and cherelles promised a long mid-crop if rainfall remained constant.

In the western region of Soubre, at the heart of the cocoa belt, farmers said moisture would help keep the mid-crop healthy.

“The rain has been abundant for now. If it continues over the next two weeks, we will be rubbing our hands,” said Salame Kone, who farms near Soubre.

Data collected by Reuters showed rainfall in Soubre, including the regions of Sassandra and San Pedro, totalled 23 millimetres (mm) last week, 9.4 mm above the five-year average.

Above-average rainfall was also reported in the southern regions of Agboville and Divo, and in the eastern region of Abengourou, where farmers were optimistic about the mid-crop.

But in the centre-western region of Daloa, which produces a quarter of national output, farmers reported a lack of rainfall and high temperatures.

“Rain is scarce and it’s very hot, it’s not good for the trees and young fruit,” said Raphael Kouame, who farms near Daloa.

“We need a good shower this week, or else there will be losses,” said Kouame.

Data showed rainfall in Daloa, which includes the region of Bouafle, totalled 5.1 mm last week, 10.8 mm below the five-year average.

Rains were also below average in the central region of Yamoussoukro and Bongouanou, and in the western region of Man, but farmers said a good shower this week would improve their outlook.

Average temperatures ranged between 28.58 and 32.31 degrees Celsius. (Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Editing by Sofia Christensen and Mark Potter)

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