Farmers fear Ivory Coast’s dry spell could damage cocoa crop
Hopes pinned on scarce rain as leaves and young pods wither in the heat
Abidjan — Most of Ivory Coast’s cocoa-growing regions saw no rainfall last week, raising fears for the April-to-September mid-crop, farmers said on Monday.
Scarce showers during the dry season, which runs from November to late February, are crucial for cocoa crops to withstand the heat in Ivory Coast, the world’s biggest cocoa producer. Although trees are laden with fruit, farmers said that some leaves and young pods, or cherelles, are drying up in the heat and that a prolonged drought could prevent the crop from reaching its full potential.
“The heat is unbearable. There are leaves and cherelles that are beginning to dry up and fall,” said Amadou Diallo, who farms on the outskirts of the southern region of Divo. “We need a strong shower soon because trees are starting to suffer,” said Diallo.
In the centre-western region of Daloa, which produces a quarter of national output, farmers said they feared bush fires, which can arise at this time of year. “Pods are developing well, but we hope abundant rains will come soon to reduce the risk of bush fires,” said Albert N’Zue, who farms near Daloa.
In the western region of Soubre, which includes the regions of Sassandra and San Pedro, farmers said they remained optimistic as the sky became cloudy towards the end of last week. “We think there will be rain soon,” said Fousseni Konate, who farms near Soubre. “We can see the mid-crop developing on trees.”
Farmers in other regions also expected more downpours.
Average temperatures ranged between 28.2ºC and 30.9ºC.