ABIDJAN, April 1 (Reuters) - A dry spell in some of Ivory Coast’s cocoa regions could affect the size and quality of the April-September mid-crop, farmers said on Monday, after weeks of below-average rainfall in key growing areas.
Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa producer, is entering the rainy season, which runs from mid-March to late October. Abundant showers are expected to begin this month.
Marketing for the mid-crop started on April 1, with a guaranteed farmgate price of 750 CFA francs ($1.29) per kilogram.
Farmers said plenty of beans were leaving the bush and being driven to exporter warehouses by lorry.
But in the centre-western region of Daloa, which produces a quarter of national output, farmers said they thought rainfall in recent weeks would be insufficient to boost mid-crop output.
“The conditions are not good enough for a long mid-crop and for many large beans filled with chocolate,” said Albert N’Zue, who farms near Daloa.
“Some trees have many dry leaves. We need good showers soon,” N’Zue added.
Data collected by Reuters showed that rainfall in Daloa, including the region of Bouafle, was at 4.1 millimetres (mm) last week, 14.4 mm below the five-year average.
Rainfall was also below average in the central regions of Bongouanou and Yamoussoukro, and in the western region of Man.
In the western region of Soubre, at the heart of the cocoa belt, farmers said trees had not been affected by the lack of rain.
“There is nothing to worry about. The mid-crop is developing well. Trees have plenty of ripe pods to harvest,” said Lazare Ake, who farms near Soubre.
Data showed that rainfall in Soubre, which includes the regions of Sassandra and San Pedro, was at 8.3 mm last week, 8 mm below average.
Similar conditions were reported in the southern regions of Agboville and Divo, and in eastern Abengourou.
Average temperatures ranged between 28.6 and 32.4 degrees Celsius. ($1 = 579.6700 CFA francs) (Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly Editing by Sofia Christensen and Dale Hudson)