Heavy rain damages cocoa flowers ahead of Ivory Coast main crop
By Ange Aboa
DALOA, Ivory Coast, July 26 (Reuters) - Heavy rain in Ivory
Coast's cocoa-growing regions has damaged flowers and small pods
on trees, pod counters and farmers said, raising concern for the
development of the upcoming main crop.
Ivory Coast is the world's top cocoa grower, and annual
production reached a record 2 million tonnes last season. The
country is now preparing for its 2018/19 season, which opens in
October and runs through March.
"In June the scenario was similar to the 2016/17 season, but
this month we noticed a 20 percent fall in the survival rate of
flowers and small pods," one pod counter said.
Four other pod counters, who tour cocoa farms each month to
assess the crop, told Reuters they estimated the survival rate
in July was between 15 and 20 percent lower than in June.
The likely impact on the harvest as a whole is not yet
clear. Over the past few weeks, farmers in other regions have
told Reuters they were optimistic about the main crop because of
Another pod counter said the impact on production would be
reassessed in August, adding it could still be limited if the
number of flowers and small pods remained stable.
A Reuters witness who visited a dozen cocoa farms last week
saw an unusual number of flowers and small pods rotting on the
ground. Caterpillars, stem borers and mirid bugs were also
damaging the crops.
Apart from the rain, farmers also said lower cocoa prices on
the world market had made the maintenance of crops too expensive
and that they were vulnerable to disease and pests.
"Flowers and small pods die or fall independently, but when
they are treated they are more resistant," said Ibrahim Fofana,
who farms in the centre-western region of Daloa.
"Mirid bugs and caterpillars are growing in numbers, and
without treatment, they are destroying our crops," said Maturin
Ebini Kouadio, who farms in Soubre, the heart of the cocoa belt.
(Reporting by Ange Aboa
Writing by Sofia Christensen
Editing by Edward McAllister and Dale Hudson)
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