FILE PHOTO: A farmer collects cocoa pods on a plantation in Toumodi, Ivory Coast October 13, 2018. Picture taken October 13, 2018. Picture: REUTERS / THIERRY GOUEGNON
FILE PHOTO: A farmer collects cocoa pods on a plantation in Toumodi, Ivory Coast October 13, 2018. Picture taken October 13, 2018. Picture: REUTERS / THIERRY GOUEGNON

Abidjan — Unseasonably dry weather across Ivory Coast’s cocoa regions last week could weaken the next main crop if rainfall does not increase in July, farmers said on Monday.

With the April-to-September mid-crop tailing off in Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa producer, farmers are now eyeing the development of the next October-to-March main crop.

Farmers said downpours in July would determine the number of flowers that survive and turn into small pods.

In the western region of Soubre, at the heart of the cocoa belt, farmers said some trees had started blooming but that more rain was needed for flowers to proliferate.

“There are a few flowers and pods. The main crop is starting to emerge,” said Salame Kone, who farms near Soubre.

“We need more rain and heat in July,” he said.

Data collected by Reuters showed that rainfall in Soubre, which includes the regions of Sassandra and San Pedro, totalled 32.4mm last week, 18.6mm below the five-year average.

In the centre-western region of Daloa, which produces a quarter of national output, farmers said continued lack of rain in July could delay the start of the main crop.

“Rains need to be good throughout July, otherwise there will be few pods on trees when the main crop begins,” said Raphael Kouame, who farms near Daloa.

Data showed that rainfall in Daloa, including the region of Bouafle, reached 13.8mm last week, 13.4mm below average.

Similar conditions were reported in the central regions of Bongouanou and Yamoussoukro, where rainfall was also below average last week.

Farmers in the southern regions of Agboville and Divo and in the eastern region of Abengourou said few beans were leaving the bush.

“It’s calm. Farmers no longer have enough beans to sell,” said Amadou Diallo, who farms near Divo. “Flowering has started. We now need more rain and heat.” 

Data showed rainfall in Divo totalled 14.1mm last week, 24.2mm below average.

Average temperatures ranged between 25.3ºC and 29.1ºC.

Reuters