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Farmers in Ivory Coast hope for rains even as pods flourish


ABIDJAN, July 26 (Reuters) - Rainfall was below average in many of Ivory Coast’s cocoa growing regions last week, but previously ample moisture has allowed an abundance of large fruits to develop, farmers said on Monday.

The world’s top cocoa producer is in its rainy season which runs from April to mid-November and farmers told Reuters that many trees bore large fruits that should be ready for harvest between September and October.

But a more consistent balance of rain and sun would be needed for smaller fruits, due for harvest in November and December, to fully develop, they said.

“It’s too early to be alarmed, but the plantations need to receive enough water and sun in the coming weeks,” said Pascal Koua, who farms near the western region of Soubre.

Only 0.9 millimetres (mm) of rain fell in Soubre last week, data collected by Reuters showed, 19.2 mm below the five-year average.

Farmers reported similar conditions in the southern regions of Agboville and Divo, and in the eastern region of Abengourou, where farmers said a high level of moisture in the soil was helping trees grow, even without heavy downpours.

In the centre-western region of Daloa and in the central regions of Bongouanou and Yamoussoukro, rains fell at rates far below average.

Farmers feared that a prolonged lack of rainfall could reduce expectations for their mid-crop harvests ahead of the marketing season.

“We left for the main crop with a good mix of flowers, and small pods, so we hope the weather will be good ,” said Modeste Koffi, who farms near Daloa, where 3.7 mm of rain fell last week, 19.1 mm below the average.

Weekly average temperatures ranged from 23.2 to 26.8 degrees Celsius. (Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Editing by Cooper Inveen; Kirsten Donovan)

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