Dry, hot weather prevailed in three of Ivory Coast’s main cocoa growing regions last week, raising concerns about the April-to-September mid-crop after a run of strong deliveries.

Bean shipments to ports in top cocoa grower Ivory Coast are significantly outpacing last season’s levels, despite concerns in the run up to the main harvest about poor weather.

But dry conditions could harm mid-crop output if they continue, farmers warned.

In the central western region of Daloa, responsible for a quarter of Ivory Coast’s national output, farmers reported no rainfall for the second consecutive week and complained of hot weather.

“The locals are worried because it is very hot and it’s not raining. If that lasts, the flowers that have begun to emerge for the mid-crop will die,” said Attoungbre Kouame, who farms on the outskirts of Daloa.

“With this heat and lack of water, there is a risk that the beans will be small next month,” he added.

In the coastal region of San Pedro, farmers were also concerned by the absence of rain and the hot weather.

“For three weeks, it hasn’t rained. The conditions for a good start to the mid-crop are not good here. There are few flowers on the trees and the weather is dry,” said farmer Labbe Zoungrana, near San Pedro.

Ivory Coast is in the dry season which runs from mid-November to March during which rainfall tends to be sporadic.

Farmers were also concerned by the lack of rain in the southern region of Divo.

“It’s very hot and there’s no rain. We see already that some leaves have begun to dry out,” said farmer Amadou Diallo.

But in other regions, rain was abundant.

“There was rain on the coastal strip and in the southern forest,” said an Abidjan-based agro meteorologist who asked not to be named.

Growing conditions were good in the western region of Soubre, in the heart of the Ivorian cocoa belt, where an analyst reported 57 millimetres of rainfall, compared with 4 mm the previous week.

“It has rained well. We are well placed for a good flowering for the mid-crop,” said Lazare Ake, who farms on the outskirts of Soubre.

In the western region of Gagnoa, an analyst reported 4 mm of rainfall in the spell, compared with none the previous week.

Rain and good growing conditions were reported in southern regions of Agboville, Aboisso and Tiassale.

By Loucoumane Coulibaly