March 2, 2020 / 3:07 PM / a month ago

Ivorian dry weather raises mid-crop concerns: farmers

ABIDJAN (Reuters) - Below-average rainfall mixed with heat in Ivory Coast’s central cocoa-growing regions last week raised concerns over the mid-crop outlook, though there was sufficient moisture in other regions, farmers said on Monday.

FILE PHOTO: A farmer works on a cocoa farm in Bobia, Gagnoa, Ivory Coast, December 6, 2019. REUTERS/Thierry Gouegnon

Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa producer, is in its dry season from November to March, with most farmers reporting supply tightness from the bush as the main crop tails off.

Farmers in the central regions said growing conditions for cocoa were a worry and fruits were drying on trees because of the lack of adequate moisture. Farmers added that the number of leaves drying up was rising.

In the centre-western region of Daloa and in the central regions of Bongouanoua and Yamoussoukro, farmers said abundant rains were needed in the first half of March or the April-to-September mid-crop would suffer severe losses and quality issues.

“If there aren’t heavy rains before mid-March, the losses will be huge,” said Raymond Amani, who farms near Daloa, where data collected by Reuters showed rainfall of 2.5 millimeters (mm) last week, 10.4 mm below the five-year average.

In the western region of Soubre, farmers said they were confident of a good harvest in June, citing the development of small pods on trees. Harvesting for the mid-crop will start slowly next month and pick up gradually in May and June, they added.

“We think it’s going to go well. But the rain can’t go missing this month,” said Salame Kone, who farms near Soubre. Data showed rainfall in Soubre was 14 mm last week, 4.2 mm above the five-year average.

Similar comments and conditions were reported in the southern region of Divo, which received 14.6 mm of rain last week, 0.8 mm above the five-year average.

Although rainfall was below average in the southern region of Agboville and in the eastern region of Abengourou, farmers said there was enough moisture.

Temperatures over the past week ranged from 28.7 to 32.6 degrees Celsius.

Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Editing by Juliette Jabkhiro and David Goodman

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