ABIDJAN, Nov 14 (Reuters) – Below-average rains mixed with sunshine in most of Ivory Coast’s cocoa-growing regions seen last week were encouraging for the development of the last stage of the October-to-March main crop, farmers said on Monday.
Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa producer, is entering its dry season, which runs officially from mid-November to March, when rains are poor and scarce.
Most farmers surveyed across the country said they were happy with the weather, which has grown expectations for a strong main crop marketed from October to March. They said the soil moisture content was still enough to help the cocoa trees.
Farmers said the state of plantations implied harvesting would be better between February and March, compared to last season, although adequate rainfall would be needed until the end of this month.
“There is already a lot of cocoa everywhere and the main harvests will start now until at least the end of December,” said Louis Dje, who farms in the eastern region of Abengourou, where 40.1 millimetres (mm) of rain fell last week, 17.7 mm above the five-year average.
A similar sentiment was seen in the western region of Soubre and in the southern region of Agboville, where rains were below average, as well as the southern region of Divo, where rainfall was above average.
From next month, farmers will start to see how the mid crop is developing, with the proliferation of new flowers and young pods, they said.
In the centre-western region of Daloa and the central regions of Bongouanou and Yamoussoukro, farmers said the sun was improving deliveries from the bush.
“The buyers are happy. The ratio of mouldy beans for deliveries has been very low for a few weeks,” said Hubert Assamoi, who farms near Daloa, where 10.1 mm of rain fell last week, 0.8 mm below the average.
Average temperature ranged from 26.6 to 28.4 degrees Celsius in Ivory Coast last week.