Rainfall was above average last week in most of Ivory Coast's cocoa-growing regions but more is still needed to sustain the growth of the April-to-September mid-crop, farmers have said.
Ivory Coast, the world's top cocoa producer, is in the rainy season, which runs from April to November.
Farmers said more downpours this month would be crucial to avoid a decline in the harvest from July and to improve the quality of the beans, especially since temperatures have been high.
Farmers also said sales were going better than during the October-to-March main crop, with buyers paying the guaranteed farmgate price of 750 CFA francs ($1.37) per kilogram.
"The trees need more rain because it's very hot," said Kouassi Kouame, who farms in the western region of Soubre, at the heart of the cocoa belt.
Data collected by Reuters showed rainfall in Soubre was 20.7 millimetres (mm) last week, 2 mm above the five-year average.
Farmers also said more rain was needed to offset the heat in the southern regions of Divo and Agboville and in the eastern region of Abengourou.
In the centre-western region of Daloa, which produces a quarter of national output, farmers said harvesting would pick up from next week.
"We need more rain or else there will not be enough cocoa on the trees starting in July," said Koffi Serge, who farms near Daloa, where 14 mm of rain fell last week, 7.2 mm below average.
Farmers were happy with growing conditions in the central regions of Bongouanou and Yamoussoukro, where rainfall was well above average.
Last week's average daily temperatures ranged from 27.6 to 32.6 degrees Celsius.
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