So, what's the problem
A decade of low world cocoa prices has led smallholder farmers in the South Pacific Islands to neglect their cocoa trees which has resulted in a decline in cocoa production. However, with market prices forecast to rise during the next decade, the time is ripe for a significant rehabilitation effort in the South Pacific. In addition, the emergence of higher-value certified organic or single-origin cocoa markets provides an additional incentive for farmers to intensify management and to improve production, as they possess the fine-flavour varieties of cocoa and favourable climatic conditions for producing premium cocoa.
Constraints to cocoa production in this region include pests and diseases such as Black Pod (Phytophthora palmivora) and damage caused by rats. Cocoa production could be increased through integrated pest and disease management (IPDM), while quality could be improved through attention to the fermentation and drying processes.
What is this project doing?
The current level of farmers’ awareness and understanding of cocoa pests and diseases and the possible integrated pest and disease management (IPDM) methods such as cultural, biological and chemical control will be assessed by interviewing farmers in each of the three Vanuatu cocoa farmer networks.
CABI will explain and demonstrate a range of IPDM methods for control of Black Pod, such as phytosanitation, use of resistant varieties, rational pesticide use (if appropriate) as well as more general techniques such as pruning and shade management to members of each farming network through Farmer Field Schools . Trial plots will be established to demonstrate a selection of different IPDM methods and selected farmers will record their labour inputs for each of the methods over the trial period.
CABI will also raise farmers’ awareness of the Cocoa Pod Borer (Conopomorpha cramerella) currently affecting cocoa production in Papua New Guinea through presentations to appropriate stakeholders.
The project has only recently started but the focus of the initial phase will be to identify which of IPDM approaches will improve farmers’ income the most. After a 12-month Participatory Research Appraisal, farmers will be able to evaluate the results of the IPDM trial and will determine which option(s) offer them the best returns to effort for their cocoa crop. This will enable the project team to tailor an IPDM training package to be disseminated to additional farmer groups during the three subsequent years of the project.
See a case study on this project.
Plant Health Specialist