841 acres of cocoa in St Mary treated for frosty pod rot

Cocoa with frosty pod rot (Photo: The Plantwise blog)

More than 841 acres of cocoa in St. Mary have been treated under the Frosty Pod Rot Management Programme.

Minister of Industry, and Agriculture Audley Shaw, said that 288 farmers in the parish have benefited under the initiative.

The Frosty Pod Rot Management Programme is part of government efforts to revive the cocoa industry and help affected farmers recover from the losses caused by frosty pod rot.

Minister Shaw, was addressing the launch of the International Year of Plant Health (IYPH) at Hope Gardens on Wednesday (Jan 22).

Minister of Industry, and Agriculture Audley Shaw

He said the programme has been reaping positive results.

“There has been an increase in production yields in areas where the management programme has been implemented,” he said.

The frosty pod disease, has been plaguing cocoa farmers in recent years. It is caused by a fungus, Moniliophthora roreri, which produces billions of spores that are easily spread by wind, water, or humans and can cause serious damage to the cocoa industry, reducing crop yield by up to 80 per cent per year.

200 million

In January 2018, the Government allocated $200 million to tackle the disease. Focused was placed on cultural control, chemical control, public awareness, research and development, surveillance, and monitoring and evaluation.

Jamaica’s cocoa is one of eight recognised by the International Cocoa Organization (ICCO) with 100 per cent exclusive ‘Fine Flavour’ status among cocoa-producing countries in the world. Between 2004 and 2018, Jamaica’s cocoa production averaged approximately 368 tonnes annually. However, over the last five years, there has been an annual average of approximately 255 tonnes.