Good rains, sunshine make Ivory Coast farmers optimistic for strong mid-crop finish

ABIDJAN  - Above-average rains continued across most of Ivory Coast’s cocoa growing regions last week, bolstering farmers’ hopes for a strong mid-crop finish as they begin setting their sights on the upcoming main crop.

Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa producer, is in its March-to-November rainy season when downpours are abundant.

As the April-to-September mid-crop tails off, farmers told Reuters that their focus has shifted to the next October-to-March main crop.

July’s weather will be crucial, they said, as consistently heavy rains mixed with bouts of sun will be needed to encourage an abundance of early flowering.

At the heart of the cocoa belt in the western region of Soubre, farmers are already experiencing that ideal weather pattern. Now they just need it to continue.

“We had a lot of rain and sun. The conditions are good for a lot of flowering,” said Kouassi Kouame, who farms near Soubre.

Rainfall in Soubre was 54 millimetres (mm) above the five-year average last week, data collected by Reuters showed, reaching 101.5 mm.

Farmers in Ivory Coast’s southern regions of Agboville and Divo and in the eastern region of Abengourou likewise reported above-average rains. Some expect the harvest to further pick up in August, as well as an increase in bean quality.

Other farmers in the centre-western region of Daloa and the central regions of Bongouanou and Yamoussoukro have already started to apply insecticide to their crops, a step usually reserved for the end of a harvest season.

“The conditions are good for the trees. It’s also the period for a lot of farmers to take care closer care of their cocoa plants,” said Albert N’Zue, who farms near Daloa, where 57.5 mm of rain fell last week, 31 mm above the average.

Temperatures in Ivory Coast last week ranged from 24.7 to 27.8 degrees Celsius.