Abundant rains in Côte d’Ivoire boost early mid-crop cocoa harvests

Cocoa is one of Côte d’Ivoire’s most important crops. (Reuters pic)

ABIDJAN: Heavy rainfall in most of Côte d’Ivoire’s cocoa-growing regions last week was positive for the April-to-September mid-crop, farmers said on Monday.

Farmers said they were satisfied with mid-crop harvests so far, as plenty of dried beans were being shipped from the bush.

Yet they warned that the next two months would be crucial for the world’s top grower, as bouts of heavy rain that typically start in April could harm crops if they became regular.

“Big clouds are forming these days. We feel that rainfall will be abundant in the coming weeks,” said Kouassi Kouamé, who farms on the outskirts of Soubré, in the heart of the cocoa belt.

“There are still many flowers and cherelles on the trees. If the rhythm of the rains is good the mid-crop will finish with abundant harvests,” he said.

Data collected by Reuters showed that rainfall in Bas-Sassandra District was at 30.8 millimetres last week, 8.8mm above average.

In Haut-Sassandra, which produces a quarter of Côte d’Ivoire’s national output, farmers hoped the rain would increase soil moisture content and improve the quality of cocoa beans.

“Every day buyers reject many deliveries because the beans are too small. They have asked us to sort them before selling,” said Raphaël Kouamé, who farms near Daloa.

“The soil is becoming humid and the sun is shining, so we hope the quality will improve over the next couple of months,” said Kouamé.

Daloa received 31.1mm of rain last week, 7.7mm above average.

Farmers were also upbeat in the southern districts of Lagunes and Gôh-Djiboua, in the western district of Montagnes, and in the eastern district of Comoé.

Data showed that 38.9mm of rain fell last week in Montagnes, 16mm above average.

Comoé received 27.3mm of rain last week, 3mm above average.

But rainfall in Gôh-Djiboua was 5mm below average, at 21.7mm.

Temperatures also rose above average last week, ranging from 27.31°C to 31.15°C (81.16-88.07°F).