November 7, 2016 / 4:56 PM / 9 months ago

Ivory Coast cocoa farmers welcome rain and sun

ABIDJAN, Nov 7 (Reuters) - Plentiful sun and rain last week in Ivory Coast's main cocoa growing regions will improve the quality and size of the main crop, farmers said on Monday.

Harvesting and marketing of the October to March main crop is underway in the world's top cocoa producer, with large quantities of beans being harvested and delivered to port.

"The rainfall was good this week. We'll have lots of cocoa this year because the trees are full of fruit," said Etienne Yao, who farms in the southern region of Aboisso.

"The weather is good for fermentation," he added, saying that the beans are of very good quality.

Similar growing conditions were reported in the southern regions of Agboville and Divo.

The dry season starts in mid-November. However, farmers in the centre-western region of Daloa, which produces a quarter of Ivory Coast's national output, said they were expecting a bumper crop compared to last year if the dry season is mild.

Koffi Konan who farms near Daloa said that he expects the harvest to peak in December. But if the dry season is not too harsh there could be lots of beans in January and February, he said.

In the western region of Soubre, at the heart of the cocoa belt, farmers said the weather was adequate for the development of the main crop.

"The number of ripe pods on the trees has risen and the harvest is in full swing," said Lazare Ake, who farms near Soubre. "Drying is going very well right now." (Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Editing by Nellie Peyton and Susan Fenton)

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