Aust centre leads new study to find fix for cocoa pest


Australian Centre for International Agriculture Research (Aciar) has started new research to help improve the management of the cocoa pod borer pest, according to the Australian High Commission.
The cocoa pod borer has been a major problem for cocoa growers across the country.
Following a 2006 outbreak in East New Britain, the cocoa pod borer has also been identified in several other provinces in the country.
Project leader Dr Olivia Reynolds said one of the challenges of addressing the cocoa pod borer had been the lack of knowledge about the pest.
“A small team of PNG and Australian experts are visiting East New Britain, East Sepik and the Autonomous Region of Bougainville to sample the cocoa pod borer to help answer this question,” she said.
“The team will collect samples and resolve identification of this species, which will help scientists develop the best way to manage the pest in PNG.
“It will allow us to determine the species/race/biotype directly affecting crops in PNG.
“This will aid the development of targeted management practices.”
Cocoa production represents nearly 20 per cent of agricultural revenue per annum in PNG and is largely produced by small, family owned farms.
The New South Wales department of primary industries project is funded by Australia through Aciar in collaboration with the PNG Cocoa Board, Stellenbosch University, South African Sugarcane Research Institute and University of Sydney.

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