Ivory Coast’s cocoa belt welcomes rain ahead of Harmattan winds


ABIDJAN (Reuters) – Farmers in Ivory Coast’s cocoa-growing regions welcomed heavier-than-usual rainfall after weeks of hot and dry weather had threatened the main crop, they told Reuters on Monday.

FILE PHOTO: Cocoa beans are gathered at a cocoa farm in Azaguie, Ivory Coast. October 22, 2019. REUTERS/Luc Gnago

Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa producer, is in its dry season, which runs from November to March when rain tends to be scarce or light.

“This humidity is going to help the trees and get them ready for a good output in February and March,” said Joseph Kan, who farms near Daloa.

While farmers were optimistic for next year’s harvest, plantations would need regular rain and mild seasonal winds to continue developing, they said.

Harmattan winds sweep in sand from the Sahara and can ravage cocoa pods and sap soil moisture, damaging bean size.

Data collected by Reuters showed rainfall in Daloa, which includes the region of Bouafle, was 15.6 millimeters (mm) last week, 11.7 mm above the five-year average.

More plentiful rain also fell in the southern regions of Divo and Agboville, in the eastern region of Abengourou and in the western region of Man.

But in the dry central regions of Bongouanou and Yamoussoukro, farmers said they would need more moisture before the arrival of the Harmattan.

In the western region of Soubre, at the heart of the cocoa belt, farmers said the moisture would help them harvest significant volumes from February.

“We will have good harvests going forward because the Harmattan is not here yet and the rains are good,” said Koffi Kouame, who farms in the outskirts of Soubre.

In Soubre, which includes the regions of San Pedro and Sassandra, data showed rainfall last week was 11.5 mm, 1.1 mm above the five-year average.

Temperatures on average ranged from 26.4 to 28.5 Celsius.

Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly, editing by Anna Pujol-Mazzini and David Evans

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