Poor rains, dry Harmattan winds affect Ivory Coast cocoa regions
ABIDJAN - Light rains and dry Harmattanwinds in most of Ivory Coast's main cocoa growing regions last week could blunt the main crop if the trend continues, farmers said on Monday.
ABIDJAN - Light rains and dry Harmattan winds in most of Ivory Coast's main cocoa growing regions last week could blunt the main crop if the trend continues, farmers said on Monday.
The dry season in the world's top cocoa producer runs from mid-November to March, at which point farmers and analysts' concerns circle around the behaviour of the Harmattan, a seasonal dry dusty wind that blows from the Sahara.
It can destroy pods and sap soil moisture when severe, reducing the size of beans. A long Harmattan combined with a fierce dry season could reduce supply and lower bean quality after January, farmers said.
Amara Kone, who farms on the outskirts of Duekoue, said there were still numerous pods to remove from trees, but was concerned about the strength of the Harmattan winds.
"If there are two or three weeks with this intensity, a lot of flowers will die on the trees," said Kone.
In the western region of Soubre, at the heart of the cocoa belt, an analyst reported 7 millimetres of rains this week, compared with about 48 mm during the previous period.
Koffi Kouame, who farms on the outskirts of Soubre, predicted the harvest would peak this month because there were many mature flowers on trees.
But he still worried about the Harmattan winds, saying: "The Harmattan started strongly compared to last season at the same point."
In the centre-western region of Daloa, which produces the quarter of Ivory Coast's national output, farmers reported a second week of poor rains.
"We need at least two good rains per week before the end of the month, otherwise the coca will be rare after January," said Raphael Kouadio, who farms near Daloa.
Farmers reported similar weather in the southern regions of Aboisso, Agboville and Divo, but said growing conditions were for the moment good.