Favourable weather in Ivory Coast’s main cocoa regions bode well for the April-September mid-crop harvest, farmers said, even though low international prices continued to dent demand.

The Harmattan, a northerly wind that blows dust off the Sahara between December and March, damaging crops to the south, so far remained mild, farmers said. Last season, strong winds caused severe damage.

“It did not rain, but everything is fine on the trees. We still have a lot of pods to cut,” said Pascal Kobena, who farms in the Abengourou region, an area known for the good quality of its beans.

Farmers said low global prices had depressed demand from buyers, leading to mounting stockpiles of beans. New York and London cocoa futures hit three-year lows last month on strong supply and forecasts of a global surplus next year.

Activity at the exporting port of Abidjan was slow because of low international prices, farmers across the growing regions said. This could impact picking towards the end of the month, said one farmer in the centre-western region of Daloa
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“The problem at the moment is that we cannot sell. Growersare worried because beans are coming out slowly,” Kobena said.

Still, the crop was progressing well. In the western region of Soubre, at the heart of the cocoa belt, farmers said onerainfall this month would ensure a healthy mid-crop.

Good growing conditions were reported in southern regions of Aboisso, Agboville and Divo and in western region of Duekoue.

– By REUTERS