Mil­lions to bat­tle frosty pod rot

Jamaica Gleaner - - ACROSS THE NATION -

THE MIN­ISTRY of In­dus­try, Com­merce, Agri­cul­ture and Fish­eries will spend $150 mil­lion over the next three years to erad­i­cate the frosty pod rot dis­ease that is af­fect­ing the lo­cal co­coa in­dus­try. Min­is­ter of In­dus­try, Com­merce, Agri­cul­ture and Fish­eries Karl Sa­muda said the dis­ease, which was first de­tected in Claren­don, could re­sult in crop losses of be­tween 70 and 80 per cent of pro­duc­tion and would have a dev­as­tat­ing ef­fect on the in­dus­try.

Sa­muda was speak­ing on Thurs­day at a press brief­ing held at the min­istry of­fices in New Kingston. “In late Au­gust, a co­coa farmer in Claren­don ob­served a fun­gal dis­ease that looked dif­fer­ent from black pod in his field and re­ported his ob­ser­va­tion to the Co­coa In­dus­try Board (CIB),” Sa­muda said. He ex­plained that the Re­search and Devel­op­ment Di­vi­sion of the min­istry ten­ta­tively iden­ti­fied the fun­gal dis­ease as frosty pod rot, and this was con­firmed by the di­ag­nos­tic lab of CAB In­ter­na­tional, lo­cated in the United King­dom. The dis­ease, which is highly con­ta­gious, is caused by the fun­gus Monil­io­ph­thora roreri, which in­vades ac­tively grow­ing co­coa pods, dam­ag­ing them and the seeds they pro­duce. This is the first time the dis­ease has been con­firmed in the Caribbean. Sa­muda said the sit­u­a­tion is grave be­cause it threat­ens one of the finest crops grown lo­cally. To con­tain and erad­i­cate the dis­ease, the min­istry and the CIB, with sup­port from the In­terAmer­i­can In­sti­tute for Co­op­er­a­tion on Agri­cul­ture, will put mea­sures in place to as­sist co­coa farm­ers across Ja­maica, the min­is­ter said.

BE VIG­I­LANT

Sa­muda is im­plor­ing farm­ers to be vig­i­lant and to re­port all cases or sus­pected cases of the dis­ease im­me­di­ately to the Plant Quar­an­tine Unit or other de­part­ments of the min­istry. Per­sons may con­tact the Ru­ral Agri­cul­tural Devel­op­ment Au­thor­ity’s toll free num­ber at 888-2757232; the Re­search and Devel­op­ment Di­vi­sion at Bo­dles, St Cather­ine, at 7542957; the Co­coa In­dus­try Board at 923-6413; and the Plant Quar­an­tine Pro­tec­tion Unit at 588-5844. Farm­ers are also be­ing en­cour­aged to use the What­sApp num­ber 435-5828 to send pic­tures where it is sus­pected that the dis­ease has in­fected a crop or farm.

SA­MUDA

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