Growing conditions improving in Ivory Coast cocoa growing regions

September 10, 2013

cocoa growing
cocoa growing

Ivory Coast’s main cocoa growing regions saw improved rainfall and sunshine last week, raising farmers’ hopes for the upcoming main crop which many worry has already been damaged by unseasonably dry and overcast conditions. The marketing season for the main crop in the world’s top cocoa grower officially opens on October 1. Farmers were initially happy with the run up to the 2013/14 main crop, but exporters say the poor weather meant many flowers and small pods withered and died.

Traders are now closely monitoring growing conditions in order to gauge the size and quality of the next harvest, and world cocoa prices advanced to a one-year high last week partly on the back of weather concerns in West African producers. ICE December cocoa peaked at $2,583 on Friday, the highest level since late September 2012. The contract was down $12 or 0.5 percent at $2,552 per tonne at 1157 GMT. December cocoa on Liffe also dipped 14 pounds or 0.8 percent at 1,686 pounds ($2,600) a tonne.

Ivorian farmers said two consecutive weeks of showers were now beginning to improve the outlook for the main crop harvest but added it was still too early to make an accurate forecast. Ivory Coast is now in the shorter of its two annual rainy seasons when abundant rains typically fall from September to late October. In the western region of Soubre, in the heart of the cocoa belt, an analyst reported 72 millimetres of rainfall last week, up from 22 mm the previous week.

“It rained for four days. The trees are doing well,” Soubre farmer Salam Kone told Reuters, adding that growers were now harvesting what cocoa they had in order to pay fees due at the start of the school year. “Right now we want lots of sunshine to help dry the beans.” In the centre-western region of Daloa, which produces a quarter of total output, farmers reported three showers that they said were beginning to improve soil moisture levels.

“We’re less worried now. We’ve had very good sunshine. If that continues, black pod disease will be less of a problem,” said Attoungbre Kouame, who farms near Daloa. Similar growing conditions were reported in the western region of Gagnoa. Farmers in the western region of Duekoue said they were expecting a strong start to the main crop. “The rains have been good here. Harvesting has started, and there will be lots of cocoa in October,” said farmer and co-operative manager Amara Kone. Farmers in the south-eastern region of Aboisso, in the coastal regions of San Pedro and Sassandra and in the eastern region of Abengourou all reported improving growing conditions.

In southern region of Divo, however farmers were still awaiting the return of the rains. “There is no rain. It’s overcast and the soil is still dry. Lots of flowers have fallen off. We hope that this month there will be rain,” said Divo farmer Amadou Diallo. Courtesy Reuters

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