Shaw orders resumption of Frosty Pod Rot management project
Agriculture Minister Audley Shaw has ordered the full resumption of the activities under the Frosty Pod Rot management project.
Shaw said the decision to resume the project was made after it was identified that there was an 87 per cent increase in the production yield of cocoa with a further projected increase of 50 per cent for the fall crop in the areas where the management project took place.
“I am assuring the country that Jamaica is on the right track in managing this disease,” said Shaw at a press conference at his Ministry’s Hope Gardens offices Wednesday.
Frosty Pod Rot is a fungal disease caused by the Moniliophthora roreri, which produces billion of spores that are easily spread by wind, water, or humans.
It can remain active on clothing and other material and equipment for up to nine months.
Signs and symptoms only appear on the pods.
It can cause serious damage to the cocoa industry reducing crop yield up to 80 per cent per year.
In Photo: Frosty pod rot-affected cocoa pods
On Monday, People’s National Party’s caretaker for St Mary South East Dr Shane Alexis appealed for the government to provide assistance to cocoa farmers who he says have been badly affected by the frosty pod disease.
Alexis says the disease has severely reduced and, in some cases, completely destroyed the yield of cocoa in the area.
Alexis, in a statement, said hundreds of persons who are connected to the cocoa industry are now suffering severe hardships as a result of the economic fallout from the disease.
The agriculture minister said the management project was granted budgetary support by the Government in January 2018 to the tune of $200 million and has been implemented in St Mary and is set to continue in the parish of Clarendon.
He outlined that the five components of the project are cultural control, chemical control, public awareness, research and development, surveillance, monitoring, and evaluation.
Meanwhile, Shaw is urging farmers to allow the Ministry’s officers to enter their farms to carry out the necessary intervention measures.
“I am making this appeal in light of some concerning reports I have received that our farmers are resisting the efforts of my team to enter their farms to carry out their duties. We all need to work together to secure the full resuscitation of Jamaica’s valuable cocoa industry,” he said.