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Farmers Predict Early Cocoa Harvest Amid Strong Rains

Steadily improving rainfall across Ivory Coast’s main cocoa growing regions last week is boosting prospects for a strong mid-crop harvest, with some farmers on Tuesday even predicting an early start to next season’s main crop.

The world’s top cocoa producer is currently harvesting beans from its April-to-September mid-crop, and port arrivals are currently outpacing last year’s record crop of around 1.74 million tonnes, according to exporters

. Most farmers think that supply from plantations upcountry will pick up sharply next month.

In the western region of Soubre, in the heart of the cocoa belt, an analyst reported 37 millimetres of rainfall, compared with 58.5 mm the previous week.

“Things are going well. We’re seeing more and more beans coming out of the bush,” said Soubre farmer Salam Kone. “With the flowers and cherelles (small pods) that are still appearing, it’s possible that the next main crop could start early.”

Ivory Coast’s cocoa main crop, the larger of its two harvests, runs from October to March.

In the eastern region of Abengourou, known for the high quality of its beans, farmers said that, after a worrying start to the mid-crop, they were now satisfied with the weather conditions and were expecting harvesting to pick up next month.

“The moisture level is very satisfactory. There are enough mid-sized pods and plenty of small ones, which means that harvesting won’t end early,” said farmer N’Dri Kouao, who farms in Niable near the border with Ghana.

In the centre-western regions of Daloa, responsible for a quarter of Ivory Coast’s national output, plantations struggled with a lack of rainfall earlier in the season. But farmers have now reported abundant showers for three consecutive weeks.

“We’ll have a good end to the mid-crop. From July, the cocoa will really start coming out and it will be abundant and of good quality from August through September,” said Koffi Konan, who farms in the outskirts of Daloa.

In the western region of Duekoue, farmers reported several heavy showers. “We’ll have at least two harvests per month from June, because there’s cocoa everywhere on the trees,” said farmer Amara Kone.

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