No rain in Ivory Coast’s cocoa regions, Harmattan increases- farmers

ABIDJAN: No rain fell last week in most of Ivory Coast’s cocoa regions and a strong seasonal dry wind in central regions raised fears over the quality and the size of the April-to-September mid-crop, farmers said on Monday.

Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa producer, is in its dry season, which runs from around mid-November to March, when rains are poor and scarce.

The dry Harmattan wind blows from the Sahara Desert for a variable period between December and March and can damage the crop when strong.

Farmers in central regions said the intensity of the Harmattan had picked up.

Without good rainfall this week or next, the last stage of the main crop could be of poor quality, farmers said.

The start of the mid-crop could also see fewer beans of poorer quality if the Harmattan remains strong until February and there is poor rainfall, leading to damaged flowers and pods.

“The farmers are worried. The Harmattan has become stronger and there is no rain. It’s not good for cocoa,” said Roger Koffi, who farms near the centre-western region of Daloa, where 0 millimeters (mm) fell last week, 2.7 mm below the five-year average.

No rain fell last week in the western region of Soubre, in the southern regions of Agboville and Divo and in the eastern region of Abengourou. Farmers there said the Harmattan was not yet alarming and the availability of beans was good.

“We are in the last big pickings,” said Salame Kone, who farms near Soubre, where 0 mm fell last week, 4.9 mm below the average.

Temperatures ranged from 25.2 to 26.5 degrees Celsius in Ivory Coast last week. – AFP

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