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Ivory Coast cocoa output facing threat as heavy rain causes flooding in plantations

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Above-average rain in most of Ivory Coast’s cocoa regions last week has flooded plantations and could affect the start of the next October-to-March main crop, farmers said on Monday.

The world’s top cocoa producer is in its rainy season, which runs officially from April to mid-November. Downpours are usually abundant and heavy during this time.

Several farmers said rain had caused flooding that barred them from accessing their crops.

They said the weather could lead to diseases and that there was a lack of sunshine.

More heavy rain could hinder the start of the next main crop as it would knock flowers from trees, while the April-to-September mid-crop was tailing off with low yields, they added.

“It is not good here, showers come one after the other. Farmers can no longer go to the fields because rivers have broken their banks and there is flooding,” said Arsene Kouao.

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He farms near the eastern region of Abengourou, where 206.3 millimetres (mm) (8.12 inches) of rain fell last week, 153 mm above the five-year average.

Rainfall was unusually high in other cocoa-growing parts of the country. The western region of Soubre recorded 119 mm last week, 65.7 mm above the average. The southern region of Agboville had 146.2 mm of rainfall, 87 mm above the average.

In the southern region of Divo, where 57.8 mm of rain fell – 18.5 mm above the average – farmers said they were concerned the showers would damage new flowers and hinder the start of the next main crop.

But in the central regions of Bongouanou and Yamoussoukro, where rains were also above average, farmers remained optimistic.

“The weather is good for a lot of cocoa in August and September if we have sunshine over the next few days,” said Emmanuel Gode, who farms near Bongouanou, where 72.8 mm of rain fell last week, 42.8 mm above the average.

Rain was below average in the centre-western region of Daloa.

Average temperatures ranged between 24.8 degrees and 28.5 degrees Celsius (76.64°F and 83.3°F) last week.

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