Unusually heavy rains in most of Ivory Coast’s cocoa growing regions last week could give an early boost to the October-March main crop just as harvesting begins to pick up, farmers said on Monday.
Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa producer, is entering the dry season when downpours are poor or scarce from around Mid-November to March.
Farmers welcomed the uncharacteristically abundant rainfall, which they expect will help trees heavy with cocoa pods survive the upcoming dry season.
If scattered rains continue through December and the rest of the dry season is relatively mild, the main crop will be abundant and should last longer than last year's, farmers said.
“We are happy because those rains were very helpful. They will help cocoa trees become strong and cross well into the dry season,” said Herve Dalli, who farms near Soubre, where 71.6 millimeters (mm) fell last week, 53.6 mm above the five-year average.
In the southern regions of Divo and Agboville and in the eastern region of Abengourou, where rains were well-above average, farmers expect a long and uninterrupted main-crop, with deliveries leaving the bush though at least January.
“Currently, the beans from the bush are of big size and good quality. We expect to earn enough money in February and March because of the plenty small pods on trees,” said Amadou Toure, who farms near Divo, where 49.4 mm fell last week, 33.2 mm above the average.
In the centre-western region of Daloa and the central regions of Bongouanou and Yamoussoukro, where rainfall was also above average, farmers said that December's weather will determine the quality of the crop in February and March.
“Farmers are confident as it continues to rain. We pray for a mild dry season from now,” said Jean-Pierre Amani, who farms near Daloa, where 10.8 mm fell last week, 2.2 mm above the average.
Average temperatures ranged from 26.8 to 30.2 Celsius in Ivory Coast last week.
Ivory Coast has stopped sales of export contracts for the current 2021/22 season as the harvest is on track to come in 10% below last year, the head of the cocoa sector regulator told Reuters last week.