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Ivory Coast cocoa farmers fear unpredictable climate to lower crop yields

In this May 31, 2011 photo, farmer Issiaka Ouedraogo arranges cocoa beans, laid out to dry, on a cocoa farm outside the village of Fangolo, I. Coast.   -  
Copyright © africanews
Rebecca Blackwell/AP2011 -

Ivory Coast

**The change in rain patterns has hit the world's top cocoa producer.
**

Jean Baptiste Saleyo lives in Ivory Coast’s Bas-Sassandra region. The man has farmed cocoa on several acres of his family land for years. However, this year’s unpredictable rain has affected his crop.

Inspecting the ripeness of one of his cocoa pods leaves him sad.

"When it should have rained, it didn't, it didn't rain. It's now the end of October and it's raining now but it's already too late."

Ivory Coast produces almost half the world's supply of the raw ingredient used in chocolate.

The cooperative helping farmers bring their crops to markets, says small-scale cocoa producers are hurting because of climate change.

"The rain hasn't been abundant and that has hit production", Jean Yao Brou, the secretary-general of farming cooperative Anouanze reveals.

"So if you expected to harvest 500kg, you'll only be getting 200kg. Our producers are really worried about their harvests". 

Rains need to come at the right times in the growing cycle for the cocoa tree to fruit well. Coming at the wrong times risks crop disease.

"... If the plants don't get rain when they need, that can affect their growth cycle", Dr. Doga Dabe exlains. 

"This in turn can lead to a drop in production. But there are also certain (plant) diseases emerging that weren't around before [...]", the researcher at the National Centre for Agronomic Research (CNRA) concludes.

Cocoa farming employs nearly 600,000 farmers in Ivory Coast, ultimately supporting nearly a quarter of the country's population, according to the Coffee-Cocoa Council.

The production accounts for 15% of the nation’s GDP.

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