July 22, 2019 / 1:50 PM / 2 months ago

More rain and sun needed ahead of Ivory Coast main cocoa crop, say farmers

ABIDJAN (Reuters) - Rains were below average last week in most of Ivory Coast’s cocoa growing regions and more sun was needed for the main October-to-March main crop to develop well, farmers said on Monday.

As the April-to-September mid-crop comes to an end in the world’s top cocoa producer, planters said pods for the Ivory Coast’s next harvest were developing well, thanks to good soil moisture content.

But farmers said more sunny spells and adequate rains were needed in coming weeks to help the crop reach its maximum potential.

In the western region of Soubre, at the heart of the cocoa belt, farmers said the crop was developing well but they feared a cold spell.

“It is a bit cold and there isn’t much sun. That is not good for the development of small pods on the trees,” said Lazare Ake, who farms near Soubre. “We hope this weather won’t last because the crops need more sun and water.”

Data collected by Reuters showed rainfall in Soubre, which includes the regions of Sassandra and San Pedro, was 12.3 millimeters (mm) last week, 10.5 mm below the five-year average.

Similar weather conditions were reported in southern regions of Agboville and Divo, and in the eastern region of Abengourou. In the central region of Yamoussoukro, where rains were below average, farmers said the crop was developing well but needed more warmth.

The central region of Bongouanou fared better with 25.4 mm of rainfall last week, 7.5 mm above average. Farmers there said that, if the weather remained sunny, the main crop would start strong.

In the central-western region of Daloa, producing a quarter of Ivory Coast’s national output, the crop looked better than at the same period last year, farmers said.

“We had less losses of cherelles. We need one big rain per week and lots of sunshine to guarantee good harvests during the main crop,” said Koffi Konan, who farms near Daloa.

Data showed rainfall in Daloa, including the region of Bouafle, was 6.6 mm last week, 16.2 mm below average.

Average temperatures ranged between 24.5 and 26.2 degrees Celsius.

Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Editing by Anna Pujol-Mazzini and Edmund Blair

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