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Ivorian Cocoa Crop is Threatened by Low Rains

An unusual dry spell persisted across most of Ivory Coast’s cocoa-growing regions last week, fuelling farmers’ fears that the April-to-September mid-crop could be depleted. Ivory Coast, the world’s biggest cocoa producer, is in its rainy season, which runs from April to mid-November. But the heavy downpours typical of the season have been absent for more than a month. Farmers told Reuters they expect yields from the latest stage of the mid-crop to fall compared with those of last year, as younger pods are suffering from a lack of moisture. Only 34.6 millimetres (mm) of rain fell in Soubre last week, data collected by Reuters showed, an improvement from the week before but still 19.2 mm below the five-year average. Downpours were sparse across the central regions of Bongouanou, Yamoussoukro and Daloa as well, where farmers said they are not expecting their pods to develop properly. Farmers said the market for their beans had weakened with few buyers paying regular visits to farms. Some said major buyers had told them there was enough stock to export gradually should the rains not pick up again.