The Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries is advising farmers affected by the Frosty Pod Rot disease to exercise vigilance when disposing of affected cocoa pods.
Identifier and Entomologist at the Plant Quarantine Produce Inspection Branch, Karen Christie, told JIS News that the ministry has provided a step-by-step guide for farmers to follow.
They were advised to remove all pods, both healthy and infected from the cocoa trees. Infected pods should be removed before 9:00 am or when wet.All other pods can be removed anytime during the day.
The pods should then be placed in a doubled black garbage bag or lined meshed bag and left in direct sunlight for two weeks to ensure that the spores are dead, after which they are discarded.
Other options are to place the pods in a bag then bury it 18 inches deep; establish a compost heap consisting of layered mound and leave the pods in for four to six weeks; or place pods in plastic bags or a covered plastic drum for seven to 14 days, then bury.
Farmers should continue to remove and dispose of pods and prune trees so that they are exposed to sunlight.
To maintain a healthy tree, plants must be sprayed once every month for two months with one per cent of copper hydroxide. The popular brands are Champion, Kocide, Champs and Sulcox.
Christie said the Plant Quarantine Produce Inspection Branch will work with farmers to manage the infestation.
“We do not want farmers to do the management on their own, so we are willing to provide them with bags and our team will go to the farms to collect pods to dispose of them,” she said.
She pointed out that continuous monitoring of fields is critical to controlling and eradicating the Frosty Pod Rot disease.
For further information farmers may contact the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) toll free number at 888-275-7232; Research and Development Division at Bodles, St. Catherine, 754-2957; Cocoa Industry Board, 923-6413; and the Plant Quarantine Protection Unit, 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