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Ivory Coast Heavy Rains Raise Cocoa Disease Fears

FILE - Farmers break cocoa pods at a cocoa farm in Soubre, Ivory Coast, Jan. 6, 2021.

ABIDJAN — Above-average rains last week in most of Ivory Coast's main cocoa regions are triggering farmers' fears of flooding and disease, which could damage the April-to-September mid-crop.

Ivory Coast, the world's top cocoa producer, is in its rainy season which runs officially from April to mid-November.

Cocoa plantations in some areas will be flooded if it continues to rain heavily in the coming weeks, farmers said, adding that high moisture levels could attract insects and diseases.

"If it continues to rain heavily, there will be flooding and damage because tree roots won't be able to breathe," said Jean-Paul Niangui, who farms near Soubre, where 117 millimeters fell last week, 64.7 mm above the five-year average.

FILE - A man cuts a cocoa pod from a tree on a plantation in Toumodi, Ivory Coast, Oct. 13, 2018.
FILE - A man cuts a cocoa pod from a tree on a plantation in Toumodi, Ivory Coast, Oct. 13, 2018.

In the southern region of Agboville, where 122.1 mm fell last week, 66.9 mm above the average, farmers said heavy rains could cause young fruits to fall off the trees and reduce the size of the mid-crop.

Similarly, farmers in the southern Divo region and in the eastern region of Abengourou said they feared the quality of beans would be poor.

In the center-western region of Daloa and the central regions of Bongouanou and Yamoussoukro, farmers said more sun was needed to help the crop.

"The weather is humid. We need plenty of sun, otherwise the plants will not be protected from insects and disease," said Albert N’Zue, who farms near Daloa, where 60.2 mm fell last week, 31.2 mm above the average.

Average temperatures ranged from 25.4 to 29.7 degrees Celsius in Ivory Coast last week.