Well below average rainfall last week in most of Ivory Coast’s cocoa regions has reduced expectations of a healthy mid-crop marketed from April to September, farmers said on Monday.
The world’s top cocoa producer is entering the rainy season, when there should be regular downpours from mid-March to late October.
Most farmers across the country said insufficient rain had fallen over the last two weeks at a time when regular downpours were needed to strengthen the quality and the size of the crop.
A prolonged dry spell with high temperatures could jeopardise the development of plentiful small and average-sized pods for harvesting from June, they said.
In the centre-western region of Daloa and the central regions of Bongouanou and Yamoussoukro farmers said they were not confident about the future crop.
"We had been hoping for good rains in April," said Augustin Kobenan, who farms near Daloa, which accounts for a quarter of Ivory Coast’s national output.
Data collected by Reuters showed Daloa received 5 millimetres (mm) of rain last week, 18.9 mm below the five-year average.
In the eastern region of Abengourou, known for its good-quality beans, farmers said supplies from the bush were rising thanks to abundant current harvests, but much more rain would be needed soon.
Rainfall in Abengourou was 8 mm last week, 17.5 mm below average. Similar reports came from the southern regions of Agboville and Divo, where rainfall was also below the average last week.
"I'm optimistic for now, but farmers here are complaining about a lack of rain," said Salame Kone, who farms near Soubre, at the heart of the cocoa belt.
Soubre received 2.9 mm of rain last week, 20.9 mm below the average.
Temperatures over the past week ranged from 27.9 to 31.5 degrees Celsius.