Ivory Coast's April-to-September cocoa mid-crop will need more rain to strengthen the last stage of its development after most cocoa regions had well below average rainfall last week, farmers said.
Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa producer, is currently in its rainy season, which runs from mid-March to late October when there are meant to be regular downpours.
Data collected by Reuters showed that rainfall was 23.8 millimetres (mm) last week in the eastern cocoa growing region of Abengourou, 19.5 mm below the five-year average.
"If the plantations are not well-watered with rain in June, the harvest will be pretty weak by the end of the mid-crop," said Desire N’Da, who farms near the Abengourou region, known for the good quality of its beans.
Across the country, several farmers said they were satisfied with the volume of pods currently harvested in the bush. Some farmers said the mid-crop would peak in June in their region.
An Important Period
But June is also considered an important period for the development of the plentiful small pods to be harvested from mid-August.
Farmers echoed N'Da's comments in the southern regions of Divo and Agboville and in the western region of Soubre, in the heart of the cocoa belt, where rains were also below average.
Rainfall was below average in the centre-western region of Daloa and in the southern regions of Bongouanou and Yamoussoukro. Farmers there said they did not expect significant volumes of beans to leave the bush after June due to the lack of rain.
"There are flowers and pods on the trees that need lots of water," said Marc Kouassi, who farms in the outskirt of Daloa, a district that produces a quarter of Ivory Coast’s national cocoa output.
Daloa region received 1.1 mm of rain last week, 23.9 mm below average.
Temperatures over the past week ranged from 27 to 30.5 degrees Celsius.