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Ivorian farmers fret as lack of rain saps cocoa crop

ABIDJAN (Reuters) – No rain fell last week in most of Ivory Coast’s cocoa regions, farmers told Reuters, adding to their concerns over the crop’s development during a crucial growing period for the world’s top producer.

A farmer works on a cocoa farm in Bobia, Gagnoa, Ivory Coast, December 6, 2019, REUTERS/Thierry Gouegnon

Ivory Coast’s dry season runs from November to March, when rain tends to be scarce or light.

Farmers in the bush said weather conditions in February would be crucial for the start of the mid-growing season, which runs from April to September, as plenty of pods, known as cherelles, and flowers were on trees.

“If it keeps going like this in the coming month, the start of the mid-crop will be slow,” Olivier Gouli, who farms in the western region of Soubre, said.

Farmers made similar comments in the southern regions of Agboville and Divo, in the eastern region of Abengourou and in the central regions of Bongouanou and Yamoussoukro.

In the centre-western region of Daloa, farmers said the soil was drying out.

“It’s not yet a catastrophe but the leaves are starting to dry in some plantations. We need rain fast,” Jonas Koffi, who farms near Daloa, said.

At least one adequate downpour every two weeks would be needed to boost the crop, the farmers said.

They added that the main crop was less abundant than in the first three months of the harvest and the beans being harvested were smaller than they were a month ago.

Farmers in the central regions of Bongouanou and Yamoussoukro and in the centre-western region of Daloa said buyers were reluctant to take some deliveries because they said the quality was bad.

Temperatures on average ranged from 27.41 to 29.37 degrees Celsius.

Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Editing by Juliette Jabkhiro and Barbara Lewis

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