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cases this is because growers do not have any, or adequate, collateral as they often do not have formal title to the land that they have been using for decades. This is a major constraint to efficient cocoa cultivation.

Pest and Disease Losses

Total losses of cocoa production due to pests and diseases are substantial, as are the costs of attempting to control them effectively. There are no recent, comprehensive and reliable estimates of these total losses, either on a tonnage or a percentage basis. It seems as if the last serious systematic attempt to do this was by Cramer, published in 1967 (14). At that time, he concluded that with world cocoa production at 1 528 000 tonnes, the potential loss from diseases was 588 000 tonnes and that from pests and weeds together amounted to a further 788 000 tonnes, or 20.2% and 27.0% respectively of the potential production per annum. With world cocoa production in 1997/98 estimated at 2 673 000 tonnes, a straight extrapolation of Cramer's figures (which may or may not still be valid) gives huge potential global losses. Empirical evidence suggests that actual losses are very high and may well still reach such levels. The distribution of the major cocoa pests and diseases is shown in Table 2.4. There is a real need for improved research into better cultivars and new techniques of environmentally friendly pest and disease control suited to the small cocoa farmers of the world, no doubt involving integrated pest management practices.

On-Farm Processing of Cocoa

In common with many other tropical crops, the cocoa harvest is spread over several months, usually with a major peak and a minor peak of pod ripeness/harvesting. A maturing crop tends to suppress further flowering, and some varieties have sharper peaks than others, though the new hybrids tend to have a flatter harvest pattern. These factors, together with weather variations between seasons, make accurate predictions of crop timing and size difficult.

Ripe pods can be harvested over a 2-week time-frame (before, as, or after they start to change colour) usually with no yield loss and can be left on the tree for a further 23 weeks without a reduction in flavour quality; though leaving ripe pods on the trees for any time is not really to be recommended as theft and losses from rodent pests and diseases will increase. Rodents are attracted by the sweet mucilage in the ripe pod; any rodent damage breaks the pod wall, exposes the ripe beans to oxygen and levels of germinated beans can become significant. These are classified as a defect and are to be avoided the germ is often broken off and moulds can enter through the resulting hole.


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