Onset of rains buoys Ivorian mid-crop cocoa outlook
Business Live - May 8th 2012, 08:49
The arrival of regular rains across most of Ivory Coast's cocoa growing regions last week will strengthen the development of flowers and small pods, brightening the prospects of a delayed mid-crop, farmers and analysts said on Monday.
Traders are keeping a close eye on the mid-crop in the world's top cocoa producer after a long dry spell from mid-November to early March cut short last season's main crop.
Despite the official start of the mid-crop, which is marketed from April to September, deliveries to the ports of Abidjan and San Pedro have remained sluggish and bean quality has been poor. Mid-crop harvesting is expected to gain momentum, however, in early June.
Ivory Coast has now entered the rainy season, which began on the coast last month before moving upcountry.
Farmers say they expect regular downpours in the coming weeks to improve the quality of beans and develop flowers and small pods that promise to bolster mid-crop production.
In the southern region of Divo, farmers reported plenty of sunshine and rainfall that they said would result in abundant harvests of good quality beans beginning next month.
"The beans will be good from next month," said Amadou Diallo, who farms near Divo and reported three rains.
"There are good signs. The foliage is very green. You can feel that the trees are doing well, and we have a mixture of lots of flowers and small pods on the trees," he said.
In the western region of Soubre, farmers said they were happy with the weather as plentiful flowers and small pods would pave the way for an abundant mid-crop.
"There's good rainfall. Some farmers are getting ready to harvest the ripe pods," said Koffi Kouame, who farms on the outskirts of Soubre, where an analyst reported 34 millimetres of rainfall, up from 25 mm the week before.
"The flowers are still appearing, and there are plenty of small pods on the trees. If the rain continues like this each week, the mid-crop will carry on over a long period," he added.
Similar growing conditions were reported in the southern region of Aboisso, where an analyst reported 30.4 mm of rains compared with 9.4 mm the previous week.
"It's going well on the plantations. We've had good rain. Some farmers are already cutting down the ripe pods, but there's not enough just yet," said farmer Etienne Yao.
In the western region of Daloa, which produces a quarter of Ivory Coast's national output, farmers said patchy rains were sustaining development for the time being.
"The rain has fallen here and there. The small pods are continuing to grow. For the moment, there is no danger. But we'll need rains everywhere this week to put the farmers at ease," said farmer Attoungbre Kouame.
In the eastern region of Abengourou, an analyst reported rainfall of around 17 mm compared with 26.5 mm the previous week.
"We expect more rain in the coming weeks. The weather is often overcast, and we think that the cocoa will develop well," said farmer Denis Kablan.
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