News / Africa

Ivory Coast Cocoa Harvest Strong Despite Disease

Heavy rains in Ivory Coast have brought another strong cocoa harvest.  But all that moisture is also spreading disease among trees that produce nearly 40 percent of the world's cocoa. 

Farmers in the coastal Sassandra region of Ivory Coast sort through piles of cocoa pods, separating healthy yellow pods from those rotting with black fungus.  Kouman N'guetia says more than half of the pods here are spoiled.

"When the pods are black inside the cocoa is too light," he said. "Farmers are asking themselves why they still get black pods even after such careful growing.  What do we do now to make the black pods disappear." Sometimes, he adds, he wonders if the rot is caused by the ground itself.

Agricultural officials say it is caused by too much humidity after weeks of heavy rains where cocoa trees planted too close together do not get enough sunlight to dry them out.

"When cocoa plants are too close together, that encourages diseases, as there is too much humidity," said Christian Kre is a Cocoa cooperative manager. "When there is too much humidity, the fungus makes the pods rot. There can be 100 pods on one cocoa tree but you can only harvest about 30 of them."

In addition to the black pod disease, high humidity is also spreading the viral swollen shoot disease that can ruin beans.  Pesticide seller Deki Adama Ouattara says farmers must move quickly to fight that disease.

"Normally from March to April, farmers use pesticides to deal with these parasites because once they appear on your field, it is too late, you cannot do anything," said Ouattara. "What can be done is called 'sanitizing the harvest' by cutting out all the affected pods because if they touch the other pods they will contaminate them too."

While Ivory Coast remains the world's largest cocoa producer, it is far less efficient than Indonesia or neighboring Ghana - in part because of disease, it part because its trees are far older and less productive.  Cooperative Manager Kre says cocoa fields have expanded more than five times during the past two decades, but output has only doubled.

"Ivory Coast has two million hectares of cleared forest under cultivation for cocoa,"  said Kre. "Each of those two million hectares produces about 600 kilograms of cocoa. That is below the productivity of Ghana, but he says Ivory Coast can do better if farmers adjust how they plant new trees."

Good rains mean this year's harvest will likely approach last year's 1.2 million tons of cocoa.  But keeping harvests consistent means both replacing older trees and reforming government price controls.

The future of Ivorian cocoa is a central theme in the country's ongoing presidential campaign, but real change has been held-up by this long-delayed vote, now scheduled for the end of October.


You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More