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Dry spell worries Ivory Coast cocoa farmers ahead of mid-crop

Monday, February 21st 2022, 3:32 pm - A long spell of dry weather in Ivory Coast, the world's top cocoa producer, could affect the region's crops.

By Loucoumane Coulibaly

ABIDJAN (Reuters) - A long stretch of below-average rainfall in Ivory Coast's cocoa regions extended into last week, and farmers said strong rains were needed to boost the mid-crop, which starts in April.

The dry season in Ivory Coast, the world's top cocoa producer, runs from mid-November to March. Rain is normally scarce in these months but it has been especially dry recently.

In the centre-western region of Daloa and in the central regions of Bongouanou and Yamoussoukro, where rainfall has been light, farmers expressed concerns.

"It is getting hotter and hotter. If there are no good rains quickly, the mid-crop will start late," said Jules Atopka, who farms near Bongouanou.

Cocoa cooperatives told Reuters that bean purchases had been slow for the last two weeks, as were unloadings at the port of Abidjan.

In the eastern region of Abengourou, where 8.2 millimetres of rain fell last week, 0.9 mm below the five-year average and in the southern region of Agboville where 6.4 mm fell last week, 2.8 mm below the average, farmers said lingering moisture would prevent plenty of flowers and cherelles from drying out.

Farmers in the western region of Soubre, where no rain fell last week, said the same.

In Bongouanou, 2.9 mm fell last week, 4.9 mm below the average.

Average daytime temperatures in Ivory Coast ranged from 27.7 to 32.1 Celsius last week.

(Editing by Edward McAllister and John Stonestreet)

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