Ivory Coast cocoa farmers hope for more sunny days

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TO GO W/ AFP STORY IN FRENCH BY David YOUANT Workers cut cocoa in the southwestern Ivorian village of Godilehiri 01 November 2007 near Divo where cocoa and coffee plantation farmers are upset with suspected misappropriation of cocoa revenue or money laundering. Ivory Coast is the world's leading producer of cocoa, which along with coffee accounts for 40 percent of the country's exports and about 20 percent of gross domestic product. A June report by Global Witness charged that cocoa helped finance low-level armed conflict that has left Ivory Coast divided in two for five years between a government-held south and a rebel north since a foiled coup bid in 2002. AFP PHOTO / ISSOUF SANOGO (Photo credit should read ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP/Getty Images)

ABIDJAN (Reuters) – Heavy rainfall last week in most of Ivory Coast’s cocoa-growing regions was accompanied by some of the sunniest days in months, improving bean quality, farmers said on Monday.
Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa producer, is on the cusp of the dry season which runs from mid-November to March.

Farmers said more rainfall mixed with sunny spells was needed before the arrival of December’s dry harmattan winds for next year’s harvest to develop well.

But continuing heavy rains could cause cherelles and small pods to fall from trees and reduce the size of next year’s crop, they added.

While consistent sunshine throughout last week helped farmers dry beans properly, some reported the high moisture content had caused damage to trees.

“The sunshine has to continue. We have plantations where young pods are rotting on trees because of the high moisture content,” said Jocelin Anvo, who farms near the southern region of Agboville.

In Agboville, data collected by Reuters showed rainfall was 97.7 mm last week, 75.4 mm above the five-year average.

In the eastern region of Abengourou, known for the good quality of its beans, rainfall was at 68.6 mm, 46.4 mm above average. Farmers there also reported concerns over black pod disease and humidity.

In the southern region of Divo, rainfall was 45 mm, 26.1 mm above average.

In the central regions of Bongouanou and Yamoussoukro, where rainfall was both above average, farmers said the sunny weather was improving growing conditions.

“The harvests are getting bigger and there is still a lot of cocoa on the trees. If the dry season doesn’t come ruin the pods, we will have a lot of money,” said Julien Koffi, who farms near Soubre.

Rainfall in Soubre, which includes the regions of San Pedro and Sassandra, was 26.8 mm, 7.8 mm above the five-year average. In the region of Daloa, which includes the region of Bouafle, rainfall was 38.1 mm, 25.9 mm above average.

Average temperatures ranged from 24.7 to 27.1 Celsius.

Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Editing by Anna Pujol-Mazzini and Edmund Blair

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