Heavy rains separate Ivory Coast cocoa farmers over harvest prospects

ABIDJAN, September 27 (Reuters) – As heavy rains persisted in cocoa-growing regions of Côte d’Ivoire last week, farmers polled by Reuters were divided over whether humidity levels would help the crop from October to March or promote a fatal fungal disease. .

The world’s largest cocoa producer is in its rainy season, which runs from April to mid-November when downpours are frequent.

Cocoa production requires heavy rains with intervals of sunny periods for the growth and drying of the beans. Too much moisture can damage immature pods or trigger a fast-spreading fungal disease called black pod.

Many Ivorian farmers have welcomed this year’s exceptionally abundant rains, which could herald a longer and better harvest. Others fear that crops will dry out completely without additional sunlight.

Farmers on both sides of the debate, however, expect the harvest to accelerate through October, peaking in November through January as the pods ripen. Authorities are expected to set a new farm gate price for cocoa later this month.

“Everyone in the bush is waiting for the farm gate price. Farmers are expecting an exciting price,” said Augustin Begnan, who operates a farm near Soubré where 33.4 millimeters (mm) of rain fell. last week, 12.9 mm above the five-year average.

In the southern regions of Agboville and Divo, where rainfall was also well above average, farmers said the main harvest could slow early if rains do not continue over the next few months.

Farmers in the central-western region of Daloa and the central regions of Bongouanou and Yamoussoukro had the opposite concern. The relentless rains made it difficult to dry the beans, which could start to mold as early as next week, they said.

“The main concern right now is the drying conditions,” said Kouadio Kan, who operates a farm near Yamoussoukro where 85.1mm fell last week, 59.9mm above average.

Average weekly temperatures in Côte d’Ivoire ranged from 26.8 to 29.3 degrees Celsius last week.

Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly Editing by Cooper Inveen, Kirsten Donovan

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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