November 11, 2019 / 1:54 PM / a month ago

Ivory Coast drier spell, sun boost cocoa crop: farmers

ABIDJAN (Reuters) - Below average rainfall mixed with long sunny spells last week in most of Ivory Coast’s cocoa regions will improve growing conditions after weeks of wet weather, farmers said on Monday.

FILE PHOTO: Cocoa pods are pictured at a cocoa farm in Azaguie, Ivory Coast, October 22, 2019. REUTERS/Luc Gnago/File Photo

Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa producer, is entering the dry season, which runs from mid November to March, when rain is scarce or light.

Farmers said soil moisture content was still high after abundant November rain, so plantations would need one good rainfall per week in December to help trees weather the dry season and the dry Harmattan wind.

Farmers said bean quality was good. Harvesting picked up last week and was expected to increase gradually until late December.

In the center-western region of Daloa, which produces a quarter of national output, farmers said conditions would stop the spread of disease and help trees to yield well.

“Lots of warmth and a little rain will help us have a good crop,” said Paulin Bawa, who farms near Daloa.

Data collected by Reuters showed rainfall in the region of Daloa, which includes the region of Bouafle, was 2.3 millimeters (mm) last week, 7.3 mm below the five-year average.

Farmers welcomed the sunny spells and predicted an abundant, good quality harvest until next year if the sunshine continues with adequate moisture in the southern region of Agboville, where rains were 19.3 mm last week, 1.2 mm below average.

In the southern region of Divo, in the central region of Bongouanou and Yamoussoukro, and in the eastern region of Abengourou, where rainfall was also below average last week, farmers said the weather in December would be crucial for the quality of the crop in February.

“For now it’s going well. But if the Harmattan comes early in December and if it’s strong, we might have small beans from February,” said Leon Anani, who farms near the central region of Yamoussoukro.

In the western region of Soubre, at the heart of the cocoa belt, farmers said they were happy as the weather was good for harvesting, which was expected to peak in December.

“There are no complaints right now about the quality of the beans,” said Augustin Deha.

Rainfall in Soubre, which includes the regions of San Pedro and Sassandra, was 4.3 mm, 14 mm below the five-year average.

Average temperatures ranged from 25.5 to 27.3 Celsius.

Editing by Alessandra Prentice and Mark Potter

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