REPORT #272 May 2000

Produced by the Belize Development Trust

World wide, the cacao crops are in trouble. Three species of fungus are infecting cacao trees. The beans are used to make chocolate. The three species of fungus that are attacking cacao trees also attack the pods causing pod rot.

To combat the three evil fungus, bio control is being used. A good fungus is being used to attack the bad fungus. The bio control method is apparently working better than chemical sprays. In Peru, the bad fungus is frosty pod rot fungi. In Brazil the bad fungus is called Witches Broom. So far bio control is only reducing losses by around 30% to 50%. Which is still better than chemical treatments.

The exports from Brazil have dropped from 430,000 tons of cacao beans in 1985 to 130,000 tons in 1999. The latest harvest is only 80,000 tons of cacao beans. A real calamity. The laboratory following these things, is ARS laboratory in Beltsville, MD, USA. Contact is Robert Ludlum ( a bio control scientist- not the fiction writer). West Africa is picking up the slack in cacao production for chocolate manufacturers. In Asia, pod borers are threatening the harvests in Indonesia and Vietnam.

There is an oversupply of cacao says, B.K. Matlick a former Hershey Foods Corp. executive quoted in the Miami Herald newspaper, so that prices are not likely to be effected for chocolate.

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