Another week of uncharacteristically heavy rain across Ivory Coast's cocoa-growing regions has increased the soil's moisture content and triggered a wave of the fungal disease black pod across several plantations, farmers told Reuters on Monday.
Last week farmers in the world's top cocoa producer, which is in the midst of a rainy season that runs from April to mid-November, warned that continuously strong rains could cause disease and damage the first beans of the October-to-March main crop.
In the eastern region of Abengourou, the southern region of Agboville and the western region of Man, farmers interviewed by Reuters said that the fungal disease had already begun to spread through their plantations.
The number of infected pods is higher than this same time last year, but has not yet reached the point of crisis, they said.
"We're going to need a lot of sunlight to stop its spread," said Constantin Yedo, who farms near Abengourou, where rainfall was 22 mm above the five-year average last week.
Black Pod Infection
Even in regions that experienced below-average rainfall last week, like the western region of Soubre and the southern region of Divo, farmers reported black pod infections. Heavy losses could ensue if heavy rain continues into October, they said.
Some plantations have already begun to harvest, but farmers there reported difficulties in thoroughly drying their beans. Some feared that deliveries could be afflicted by mould by the start of next month's new marketing season.
Others have refrained from harvesting, anticipating that the government will set a higher farmgate price at the end of this month.
Average temperatures last week ranged from 24.7 to 26.6 Celsius degrees.