Abundant rains punctuated by sunny spells last week in most of Ivory Coast's key cocoa regions have boosted the main crop, but heavy rains in some areas have prevented harvesting and may damage quality by preventing proper drying, farmers said on Monday.
Harvesting of the 2011/12 cocoa main crop (Oct-Mar) is underway and farmers in western regions said they were expecting a healthy main crop, even compared with last season.
In the western region of Man, traditionally known for its coffee, farmers said the weather was good and new cocoa farms have started to come on tap, some of them on former coffee plantations that switched to cocoa a couple of years ago.
It's raining a lot. The weather is very favourable to cocoa here, said farmer Adama Bakayoko. During the political crisis, a lot of planters switched their farmers from coffee to cocoa. There's more money in it.
In the western region of Duekoue, farmers said several downpours boded well for the development of the main crop and would extend harvesting for a longer period.
We know we're going to have cocoa of good quality and in abundance until December, said farmer Amara Kone. But after that, from January to March, isn't yet clear -- it will depend on how brutal the dry season is.
In the western region of Soubre, at the heart of the cocoa belt, an analyst reported 89 millimetres of rains compared with 57 mm the previous week.
Farmers there said the weather was good for the development of the crop but prevented them from properly drying the beans they had already harvested.
It's been raining for six days. It's good for the trees but not so good for the beans we're trying to dry, said farmer Lazare Ake.
In the eastern region of Abengourou, an analyst reported 68 mm of rains compared with 33 mm the week before. Farmers said they were concerned as too much rain would disrupt collection of their beans.
There's too much rain. The rivers have burst their banks and so we can't go to the bush to collect the beans, said farmer Joseph Amani. We fear the quality could start to suffer.
Similar growing conditions were reported in south eastern region of Aboisso, where analysts reported 77.9 mm compared with 16.2 mm the previous week, and in the southern region of Divo.
It's raining too much. The roads are unpassable, said farmer Mathurin Kouame, who farms near Divo.
But in the centre-west region of Daloa, which produces a quarter of Ivory Coast's national output, farmers reported three abundant rains mixed with enough sun to allow drying, and were optimistic the crop would be good.
In the coastal region of Sassandra, agronomist Lassene Traore reported 54 mm of rain compared with 27 mm the previous week.