Cocoa infestation leaves Papua New Guinea with bitter taste

By Neil Merrett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Cocoa, Southeast asia, Indonesia, Papua new guinea

A moth with a penchant for cocoa may not sound too great an
ecological threat, but the Cocoa Pod Borer (CPB) is threatening to
ruin Papua New Guinea's entire crop.

The CPB or Cocoa Moth as it is also known damages cocoa by laying its eggs on the cocoa pod for its Larvae to feed on, and has already decimated cocoa plantations around South East Asia.

According to information from the International Cocoa Association (ICCO) following an infestation of the moth in 1997, within just a year 100,000 hectares totaling up to 20 per cent of Indonesia's entire cocoa crop had been infected.

The US State department estimates that cocoa is Papua New Guinea's second largest export, forming a large part of the 37 per cent of the country's GDP that is supplied by Agriculture, with confectionary giant Mars among its many customers.

With the Oceana region accounting for only 16 per cent of the world's cocoa supply, an infestation in Papua New Guinea, is not thought to significantly danger world supplies of cocoa; however Robert Peck, program director for the World Cocoa Foundation sees the development as "a problem for the local farmers and their families."

The problem is not helped, by the fact that preventing CPB is notoriously difficult. "There is no one way of protecting crops against an infestation"​ says Robert Peck, "Farmer training is important in teaching how to cope with the Cocoa moth, from Frequent harvesting, pruning, sanitation, rationale use of pesticides and environmental friendly control methods"​.

Scientists representing the USDA, the Malaysian Cocoa Board and National research centers in Indonesia, the Philippines and PNG are working closely together in studying the CPB and how best to reduce its impact for cocoa farmers in the affected regions.

While training offers a positive measure in combating infestations, there is no guarantee that preventative measures will always be successful. "There appear to be two different varieties of CPB, and it appears that in some cases they may be capable of affecting other crops"​, news which could bring similarly bad news for the country's other main export - coffee.

With exports from January - May of 2006 down 21 per cent on the same period last year according to the USDA, the Cocoa Pod Borer is proving to be a most unwelcome guest to the cocoa producers of Papua New Guinea.

Related topics: Ingredients, Cocoa & Sugar

Related news

Show more