Abidjan - Above-average rains last week in Ivory Coast's central cocoa-growing regions will help the development of the last stage of the mid-crop while more downpours were needed in other regions, farmers said on Monday. Ivory Coast, the world's top cocoa producer, is in its March-to-November rainy season when downpours are abundant. Farmers said heavy rains interspersed with spells of sunshine would be needed from now until late July as farmers look toward the development of the next October-to-March main crop. The farmers added that the April-to-September mid-crop was tailing off but harvesting could rise from mid-August if the weather is good.
A dearth of buyers has led to a drop in cocoa farmgate prices as farmers offer discounts of up to 13% off the official selling price of XOF 750 CFA ($1.35) per kg, to attract buyers. In the centre-western region of Daloa and in the central regions of Bongouanou and Yamoussoukro, where rains were above average last week, farmers said they were happy after two consecutive weeks of abundant rains mixed with sun: "The weather is good for the end of the mid-crop and for the flowering of the main crop," said Ignace Aka, who farms near Daloa, where 43.9 millimetres (mm) of rain fell last week, 16.4 mm above the five-year average. In the western region of Soubre and in the southern regions of Agboville and Divo, where rains were below the average, farmers said July would be crucial for the next main crop: "We need a lot of rain in July or else the start of the main crop will be weak," said Kouassi Kouame, who farms near Soubre, where 13.8 mm fell last week, 39.1 mm below the average.
In the eastern region of Abengourou, farmers said because of the lack of buyers they were selling their beans at about 650 francs per kg to local buyers, some of whom smuggle their beans across the border to Ghana where they fetch a higher price: "We have no choice. We are obliged to sell," said Lambert Atta, who farms near Abengourou, where 40.7 mm fell last week, 15.8 mm below the average. The average temperature ranged from 25.9 to 29.6 degrees Celsius last week.