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Ivory Coast rains boost cocoa main crop

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09/14/2020 | 09:48am EDT

ABIDJAN, Sept 14 (Reuters) - Well-above average rains last week in most of Ivory Coast’s cocoa regions helped the development of new small pods, as farmers held back their beans ahead of the new marketing season, they said on Monday.

Ivory Coast, the world's top cocoa producer, is due to open the new marketing season on Oct. 1 with a new farmgate price for the October-to-March main crop that will be over 20% higher than the previous season, sources said last week.

Across the country, most farmers welcomed downpours that should help the growth of a plentiful and good-quality crop for harvesting from mid-November to January.

Farmers said they were reluctant to sell their beans at the moment given the expected rise in the farmgate price at the opening of the new season.

"Lots of farmers have cocoa in hand. But why sell when you know the price will be better in two weeks," said Celestin Bile, who farms near the centre-western region of Daloa, which produces a quarter of Ivory Coast’s national output.

Data collected by Reuters showed rainfall in Daloa was 51.3 millimetres (mm) last week, 20.9 mm above the five-year average.

Rainfall was also above average in the western region of Soubre, in the central regions of Bongouanou and Yamoussoukro, and in the southern regions of Agboville and Divo. Farmers there said the availability of beans in October would be better than the previous season thanks to good growing conditions.

In the western region of Man farmers were worried about too much rain.

"Lots of cocoa is coming out of the bush. But the heavy rains and little sunshine are preventing them from drying properly," said Salif Diomande, who farms near Man.

Data collected by Reuters showed rainfall in Man was 95.9 mm last week, 58 mm above the five-year average.

Meanwhile in the eastern region of Abengourou, known for the good quality of its beans, farmers said they were concerned a prolonged dry spell could shorten the main crop.

Average temperatures over the past week ranged from 24 to 26.6 degrees Celsius across the country. (Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Editing by Susan Fenton)

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