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ABIDJAN: Exceptionally abundant rain over most of Ivory Coast’s cocoa regions last week revived expectations of a healthy April-to-September mid-crop after weeks of drought and heat in central regions, farmers said on Monday.

Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa producer, is in the dry season, when little rain tends to fall from mid-November to March.

But data collected by Reuters showed showers last week in the centre-western region of Daloa and central regions of Bongouanou and Yamoussoukro were nearly as heavy as downpours in the rainy season.

“All the farmers are happy. The ground received a lot of water, which gives us lots of hope for the mid-crop,” said Raphael Kouadio, who farms near Daloa, where 73.6 millimetres (mm) of rain fell last week, 63.5 mm above the five-year average.

In the central regions of Bongouanou and Yamoussoukro, farmers said the rains would strengthen cocoa trees whose leaves had begun to dry. Bongouanou received 61.4 mm of rain last week, 53.5 mm above the average, while Yamoussoukro received 53.4 mm, 45.2 mm above the average.

Rains were also well above-average in the western region of Soubre, in the southern regions of Agboville and Divo and in the eastern region of Abengourou.

Farmers across the country said buying was still slow. They expect exporters to resume purchases in April, but a lack of cash to pay workers could hamper the harvesting of the mid-crop, they said.

“If we don’t have money, the pods of the mid-crop will stay on the trees,” said Kouassi Kouame, who farms near Soubre, where 27.7 mm of rain fell last week, 20 mm above the average. Last week’s average daily temperatures ranged from 27.4 to 30.6 degrees Celsius.

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