The National, Monday October 14th, 2013
By JUNIOR UKAHA
CLONED cocoa trees may be the answer to resolving the cocoa pod borer pest problem, an agriculture expert says.
Peter Homu, the programme manager of Papua New Guinea Cocoa, Coconut Industry in Lae, said this during the closing of a four-day training programme at Pile village in Labu-Butu, Morobe.
Homu, who has been conducting training for farmers said cloned cocoa trees had proved to be resistant to the pod borer pest and bore more fruit.
“Cloned cocoa is the best option because it has proven to be resistant to the pod borer pest,” Homu said.
He said cloned cocoa trees had certain genetic properties that made it difficult for the pod borer and black pod disease to infect them.
Homu said the cocoa pod borer pest already existed in Morobe and had been discovered separately on Siassi Island, Finschhafen and Markham in 2011.
The presence of the cocoa pod borer pest was first reported in Kerevat, East New Britain, in 2006.
Since then, thousands of kina have been spent to contain the pest and its harmful effects on cocoa fruit and trees.
The presence of the pest was reported in Aitape, West Sepik, and Madang between 2006 and 2007.
Homu said as a result of the pod borer pest, cocoa production in East New Britain had dropped from 20,000 tonnes to about 3,000 tonnes last year.
“We have worked with the farmers and have contained the situation in Siassi and Finschhafen,” Homu said.
Homu said the pod borer lived in thorny fruits. He said it was still unclear how the pests were transferred from one place to another.
He said the training his organisation was conducting was to educate farmers on how to contain the pests on their plots and yield quality fruit during harvest time.
“The programme is about sustaining and better managing their cocoa plots,” Homu said.