Black pod disease impends 305,000MT cocoa production target

The targeted production of 305,000 metric tonnes of cocoa by the end of the 2013/2014 season may not be achieved due to the outbreak of the black pod disease.

According to the Cocoa Association of Nigeria, the actual production output will be less than 300,000 metric tonnes. The association stated that the disease had affected production in some key producing areas in the country.

The rot is caused by a fungus that spreads rapidly on the pods under conditions of excessive rain and humidity, insufficient sunshine and temperatures below 21 degrees centigrade.

The obvious symptoms of the black pod disease are the rotting of pods, which occur at any stage of development, with the initial symptoms of small, hard and dark spots on any part of the cocoa pod, causing internal tissues, including the beans, to shrink.

Output for the 2011/2012 season was 250,000MT, with a 10 per cent increase in the following season, which moved the production up to 270,000MT, while there is expectation that it will rise to 305,000MT in the 2013/2014 season.

The National Publicity Secretary, CAN, Mr. Godwin Ukwu, also said the black pod disease consumed most of the production in Cross River State, one of the highest producing states in the country.

According to him, estimated 85,000 metric tonnes are expected at the end of the season from the state.

He added that the Federal Government instituted the Growth Enhancement Scheme through which the farmers get their fungicides but the problem is that sometimes the chemicals do not get to the farmers early.