ABIDJAN: Poor rains and hot weather last week in most of Ivory Coast’s cocoa growing regions could damage the development of the April to September mid-crop, farmers said on Monday.

The world’s top cocoa producer is in its dry season which runs from mid-November to March. While rain is normally scarce during this period, it has been below average in recent weeks.

Farmers in the central regions said that hot weather and lack of rain last week were sucking up soil moisture and that some cherelles, or small pods, were drying on the trees.

The next two weeks will be crucial for the first months of the mid-crop as plenty of flowers and small pods could dry out if the drought persists.

There was no rain last week in the centre-western region of Daloa and the central region of Bongouanou, while in the central region of Yamoussoukro there was only 0.1 millimetre (mm), 5.9 mm below the five-year average.

“The trees are suffering because the heat is unbearable. If it doesn’t rain well before the end of this month, the harvest will be weak and of poor quality during the mid-crop,” said Alfred Goli, who farms near Daloa.

In the western region of Soubre, the southern regions of Agboville and Divo and the eastern region of Abengourou, farmers said that a little rain had fallen last week but more would be needed to produce good size beans.

“It is very early to be pessimistic. I think it will rain well before the end of the month,” said Kouassi Kouame, who farms near Soubre, where 2.5 mm fell last week, 5.5 mm below the average.

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