Below average rains were recorded last week in most of Ivory Coast’s cocoa growing regions but high soil moisture content from previous rains would help the strong development of the October-to-March main crop, farmers said on Monday.
Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa producer is heading towards the end of its April to mid-November rainy season when downpours are abundant and often heavy.
Farmers need heavy rains with intervals of sunny spells for growing and drying of cocoa beans, the main ingredient in chocolate. Most farmers welcomed the dry spell last week saying it would help to avoid diseases and insects on crops.
“So far we are optimistic that there will not be a shortage of beans until January at least,” said Francis Amon, who farms near the centre-western region of Daloa, where 21.4 millimetres (mm) of rain fell last week, 8.9 mm below the five-year average.
Similar growing conditions were reported in southern regions of Bongouanou and Yamoussoukro, where rains were below average.
In the western region of Man, farmers welcomed the drier spell after two consecutive weeks of heavy rains that triggered fears of damages in plantations.
Farmers added that warehouses in the region were full of bags of beans waiting for buyers offering attractive prices.
“The new marketing season will start strong here if the farmgate price is interesting and respected,” said Fofana Mori, who farms near the western region of Duekoue.
The Cocoa and Coffee Council regulator is due to set a new farmgate price ahead of the 2021/2022 season which starts on Oct. 1.
The western region of Man reported 34.5 mm of rainfall last week, 3.5 mm below the average.
In the western region of Soubre, where rainfall was above the average, and in the southern regions of Agboville and Divo, where rains were below average, farmers said they were happy with the size and quality of beans for the season’s first harvest.
They added that more sunny spells would be needed to dry the beans properly.
“The weather is good and our expectation for now is for a strong competition for beans from October,” said Kouassi Kouame, who farms near Soubre, where 20.7 mm of rain fell last week, 3.5 mm above the average.
The average temperature across Ivory Coast ranged from 25.4 to 28.3 degrees Celsius last week.