Much of the country’s 1.2m tons of annual cocoa is harvested throughout the rainy season, which runs from mid-March to late October.
At the end of April, farmers worried that the lack of rainwater would reduce the size and quality of its mid-year crop. Cocoa pods clung to the trees, but they were smaller than usual.
In Dalao, in the western part of the country, rainfall in the last week of April was under 3mm – more than 21mm below the five-year average, according to data collected by Reuters. Farther south in Soubré, rainfall surpassed 3mm but was 21.5mm below the five-year average.
The first week of May brought more rain, boosting confidence that the weather would return to seasonal norms by summer. It rained 18.3mm in Dalao, for instance, but that number still falls nearly 6mm below the five-year average.
The eastern side of the country enjoyed more rain, yet 2.8mm below average.
The World Bank estimates the average monthly rainfall in Côte d’Ivoire to be 79mm in March, 125mm in April and 182mm in May – reaching a peak of 226mm in June.
Côte d’Ivoire cocoa export stats
The country’s 1.2m tons of cocoa account for about 40% of its $10.3b in export revenues and 10% of GDP. It is the 81st largest export economy in the world, per the Economic Complexity Index, sending $1.6b in goods to the Netherlands, $1.2b to the US and $2.3b to France, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg.
Cocoa beans comprise 37% of total exports, while cocoa paste accounts for 10% and cocoa butter for 6%.
According to the World Bank, Côte d’Ivoire is one of Africa’s ‘most vibrant economies,’ with an annual growth rate of 7.6% -- thanks in large part to agriculture. Despite efforts to modernize the business climate and take full advantage of public-private partnerships, the World Bank says, the economy can still suffer from external risks, such as volatile prices in the agricultural sector.
Nearly half of the country’s 24m people live in poverty, though that number has decreased since 2011. Life expectancy at birth was 54 years in 2017, according to the UN, though school enrollment has jumped dramatically since 2006.