Mon | Nov 29, 2021

Cocoa farmers urged to intensify efforts against Frosty Pod Rot during rainy season

Published:Sunday | November 21, 2021 | 11:49 AM
A frosty pod rot-affected cocoa pod hangs from a tree.

Farmers within the cocoa industry are being reminded by the Ministry of Agriculture to intensify their efforts to reduce the resurgence of the Frosty Pod Rot Disease.

The Ministry says the advice comes in the wake of a forecasted rainy season that will increase the conditions for the growth and spread of the fungus.

As such, farmers are advised to consistently continue the implementation of follow-up strategies within their fields as outlined by the Ministry’s Plant Quarantine/ Produce Inspection Branch.

This includes regular pruning of trees at least twice a year with an emphasis on maintaining a manageable height of 10-12ft and allowing at least 50-70% sunlight into the field.

Sanitation measures such as weed and pest control along with the removal of infected cherrelles and pods from trees are also heavily advised.

Additionally, cocoa farmers should cover infected pods with agricultural lime and spray their fields with copper-based fungicide using a motorised mist blower.

These measures are instrumental in lessening the disease and its spread within and between fields.

The Frosty Pod Rot Disease is highly contagious and affects the fruit of the cocoa plant.

It was discovered in Jamaica in 2016 and has since caused serious damage to the cocoa industry, reducing crop yield by up to 80 per cent per year.

Since its discovery in Jamaica, the Government allocated over $300 million to tackle the disease focusing on cultural control, chemical control, research and development, surveillance, and monitoring and evaluation.

Jamaica’s cocoa is one of eight recognized by the International Cocoa Organization with 100 per cent exclusive ‘Fine Flavour’ status among cocoa-producing countries in the world.

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