Cocoa farmers in Côte d’Ivoire have faced several challenges recently, including ‘catastrophic’ growing conditions that are predicted to significantly reduce the amount of cocoa the country can produce this season.
April marks the start of the cocoa mid-crop, where conditions are wet, and rainfall is expected in abundance. This year, however, the West African cocoa producers have been faced with a particularly dry start to the season, raising concerns that the mid-crop will suffer. However, with many local farmers, Reuters now reports that rainfall in the region has drastically increased over the past week, bringing new hope for the mid-crop.
In the central region of Bongouanou, for example, 50 millimetres (mm) of rain fell last week, a significant increase from the five-year average of 26.6mm. N’Guettia Francois, a farmer in that region, said, “if the rain continues, there will be a lot of cocoa, and quality will improve.” Rainfall is reportedly also at above-average levels in the regions of Daloa and Yamoussoukro.
While it is still early to say, if the increased precipitation continues, many farmers believe that it will result in an improvement in the quality of small and average-sized cocoa pods that are due to be harvested over the next three months.
Some farmers from Soubre in the West have said that they would begin harvesting as early as next week since they were seeing many pods ripening on trees already. Soubre also experienced wetter conditions, with 31.2mm of rain last week – 9.2mm above the five-year average.
“From next week, there will be a lot of picking in the bush”, Gbale Kodia, a farmer near Soubre, stated. This was echoed by farmers in Agboville and Divo in the south, as well as Abengourou in the east, where above average rainfall was also recorded. The general consensus among farmers is that this year’s mid-crop could be better than last year’s from August through to September if the heavy rain continues.