Ivory Coast weather offers mixed prospects for cocoa mid-crop

ABIDJAN: Patchy rains last week in most of Ivory Coast's main cocoa-growing regions is expected to boost the next mid-crop, though hot weather elsewhere raised fears of destructive brush fires, farmers said on Monday.
The dry season in the world's top cocoa producer runs from mid-November to March. 
Farmers reported good rains in coastal and southern regions but only scattered showers elsewhere.
In the western region of Soubre, at the heart of the cocoa belt, farmers reported one downpour in the past week. 
"There has been lots of sun and rain. We think this year's mid-crop will turn out well," said Salame Kone, who farms near Soubre.
"There are lots of flowers that have already turned into cherelles. The harvest will be good." 
Farmers also reported good prospects for the mid-crop in the southern regions of Aboisso, Agboville and Divo, as well as the western regions of Duekoue and Gagnoa. 
In the western region of Bouafle, however, farmers are concerned about a possible repeat of brush fires that destroy thousands of hectares of plantations every year. 
"We are scared of the brush fires. It is that time of year.
It is not raining a lot everywhere and some (farmers) use fire to clear their fields," said Fran?ois M'Bra. 
Farmers in the centre-west region of Daloa, which accounts for about a quarter of national cocoa output, also voiced concerns about the hot weather.
"There were two rains but the strong heat of the past weeks and the lack of sufficient humidity has made many of the flowers fall," said Albert N'Zue, who farms in Daloa. 
"The mid-crop is going to start late here. There are too few flowers on the trees right now to create lots of beans."