By Loucoumane Coulibaly
ABIDJAN, September 26 (Reuters) – Another week of unusually heavy rains in cocoa-growing areas of Ivory Coast has raised soil moisture content and triggered a wave of the black pod fungal disease in several plantations, farmers told Reuters on Monday.
Last week, farmers in the world’s top cocoa producer, which is in the midst of a rainy season that runs from April to mid-November, warned that continued heavy rains could cause disease and damage crops. first beans of the main harvest from October to March. .
In the eastern region of Abengourou, the southern region of Agboville and the western region of Man, farmers interviewed by Reuters said the fungal disease had already started to spread through their plantations.
The number of infected pods is higher than at the same time last year, but has not yet reached crisis point, they said.
“We are going to need a lot of sunshine to stop its spread,” said Constantin Yedo, who farms near Abengourou, where rainfall was 22mm above the five-year average last week.
Even in areas that experienced below-average rainfall last week, such as the western region of Soubré and the southern region of Divo, farmers reported black pod infections. Heavy casualties could follow if heavy rains continue into October, they said.
Some plantations have already started harvesting, but farmers have reported difficulty drying their beans properly. Some feared that deliveries could be affected by mold by the start of the new marketing season next month.
Others refrained from harvesting, anticipating that the government will set a higher farm gate price at the end of this month.
Average temperatures last week ranged from 24.7 to 26.6 degrees Celsius.
(Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Editing by Cooper Inveen and Jan Harvey)
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