YAOUNDE, Cameroon, Jan 23, 2012 (Dow Jones Commodities News via Comtex) — Hundreds of cocoa farms in Cameroon’s Center Region are facing infestations of sap-sucking insects that are threatening to kill some of the crops, leaders of cocoa cooperatives said Sunday.
Farmers in Central Cameroon, which accounts for nearly 40% of the country’s annual cocoa production, second only to the Southwest Region, are adopting measures to avert a worsening of the capsid infestation, which would slash output significantly, some farmers told Dow Jones Newswires.
Capsids are most active when new shoots emerge, putting younger trees at relatively higher risk of mortality. They tend to spread more quickly during dry weather, such as Central Cameroon is undergoing currently.
“Hundreds of cocoa farms have been attacked by capsids…As I speak to you, thousands of farms in many localities in the Center Region” are experiencing the harmful effects of the insects, including the loss of leaves, said Alphones Emmanuel Nguile, vice president of the 53,000-member National Organization of the Cocoa and Coffee Producers in Cameroon.
“This is why we’re holding meetings with our various cocoa farmers’ unions to seek collective effort to fight the disease,” said Nguile, who was speaking from Central Cameroon’s main cocoa-marketing town of Bafia, located around 130 kilometers northwest of Yaounde.
The farmers can’t afford to wait for the government to take the initiative, as the success of the area’s mid-crop cocoa, harvesting of which is due to start in a few months, is at risk, said Emmanuel Akolo Nogo, president of the 900-member Federation of the Unions of Cocoa Producers in the Ebebda and Monatele Districts northwest of Yaounde.
More than 2,000 trees were lost due to dry weather and capsids in the region in the cocoa season that ended July 31, farmers said.
Cameroon produced a record 240,000 tons of cocoa beans in the 2010-11 season, up from around 200,000 tons in the 2009-10 season, according to official data.
-By Emmanuel Tumanjong, contributing to Dow Jones Newswires; +237-9655-6261; firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires