Weak rains, heat, dry winds in Ivory Coast threaten cocoa mid-crop

The trees were promising to begin with but with the sun and the heat, we are wondering about the bean size
Cocoa producers of the Yakasse-Attobrou Agricultural Cooperative (Cooperative Agricole de Yakasse-Attobrou – CAYAT) unshell cocoa beans in a certified fair trade label cocoa plantation in Adzope on Agust 28, 2018. – Ivory Coast, the world’s leading cocoa producer, is seeing a fast development of the fair trade label. To obtain the label, a production must comply with environmental standards (regulated pesticides), provide a decent income for the farmers and prohibit child labor. (Photo by SIA KAMBOU / AFP)

Hot weather and well-below-average rainfall in most of Ivory Coast’s cocoa regions last week could jeopardise the quality and the size of the April-to-September crop, while a dry wind raised concerns elsewhere.

As Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa producer, approaches the rainy season, farmers expect downpours to be regular and abundant by mid-March in coastal and southern regions before moving gradually from April northwards and to the center. There are however some worries about low moisture levels and warm temperatures.

“The trees were promising to begin with but with the sun and the heat, we are wondering about the bean size,” said Joseph Koffi, who farms in the eastern region of Abengourou, known for the good quality of its beans.

“We think the picking of the mid-crop will start by March 20,” he said. In the western region of Soubre, at the heart of the cocoa belt, farmers complain about heat and a dry wind. “There are cherelles and flowers that will dry out if the weather remains like this for a week,” said Salame Kone, who farms near Soubre. Data collected by Reuters showed rainfall in Soubre, including the regions of Sassandra and San Pedro, was 1.8 mm last week, 8.7 mm below the five-year average.

In the center-western region of Daloa, which produces a quarter of Ivory Coast’s output, farmers say the grounds are dry. “We need heavy rainfall this week or at the start of next week,” said Raphael Kouame, who farms near Daloa. Rainfall in the region of Daloa, including the Bouafle region, was 0.1 mm last week, 13.4 mm below the five-year average.

Similar issues were raised in other regions, where rainfall was below average.


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