Cocoa Crop Protection

Cocoa has been described as a “virtuous crop”. There is an increasing appreciation of its value for: land rehabilitation, enrichment of biodiversity (of previously cleared land) and provision of sustainable incomes in less developed regions. Cocoa provides employment and incomes: both for small-holders and local industry. Like other crops though, it can be attacked by a number of pest species including fungal diseases, insects and rodents – some of which (e.g. frosty pod rot and cocoa pod borer) have spread dramatically, and are described as “invasive species”.

These pages describe the background to pesticide issues and our current activities in this field, including:

  • Identification of problems
  • The current “best known practices” for pest management
  • Rational pesticide use
  • Issues with pesticides used on cocoa
  • Development of alternatives – especially biological agents
  • Training initiatives for Responsible (rational) Pesticide Use
  • The Thames Valley Cocoa Club
  • Links to other websites
  • Projects: please help us to search for beneficial fungi.


Pesticide use in Cocoa: 3rd Edition (2015, final)

Pesticide use in Cocoa (2nd Edition)

  • ICCO link: Pesticide Use in Cocoa
  • 1st edition available in Vietnamese

The Rational Pesticide Use Initiative

Our sponsors have funded collaborative initiatives that probably represent the only major effort to co-ordinate development of better pesticide use in the three major cocoa growing regions of the World. Judicious use of pesticides, combined with aspects of Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) such as cultural and monitoring methods, are the most realistic way that cocoa diseases and insect pests can be managed in the short-medium term. A concept that is gaining currency is to look at pesticide use as not one but two tactics within the Integrated Pest Management “menu”, namely:

  • Traditional, broad-spectrum pesticide application,
  • Rational pesticide use using biopesticides and/or novel chemical agents.

Application studies have included spray droplet size studies on important nozzles for cacao disease control. Work carried out in collaboration with USDA, Mars Inc. and CABI, has focused on:

  • evaluating motorised mistblowers;
  • manual (hydraulic) sprayers: identification of appropriate cone nozzles to maximise spray deposition on cocoa pods;
  • training of trainers and farmers.

Techniques are being field tested in a number of countries including: Brazil (Almirante and CEPLAC), Cameroon (IRAD); Costa Rica (CATIE), Ecuador (INIAP), Indonesia (BLRS and Prima): where we have applied biological as well as chemical agents in factorial field tests. Most recently an exciting new project, aims to examine safer alternatives to chemical insecticides for mirid control, in collaboration with the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG).

Trials on readily available chemical products have been combined with studies on biological agents. The latter have included work on spore separation, biopesticide quality control and formulation; work to date has centred on hyperparasitic fungal genus called Trichoderma. Improved spraying techniques may also be used in the application of conventional chemical fungicides. The objective is to investigate delivery systems that may influence the effectiveness of agents to control cacao pathogens such as Moniliophthora spp., black pod disease (Phytophthora spp.) and insect pests such as mirids and cocoa pod borer.


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