27 Feb 2008

Cocoa pest disease re-emerges in East New Britain in PNG

11:40 am on 27 February 2008

There has been a resurgence of the cocoa pod borer disease in Papua New Guinea's East New Britain province which is threatening to wipe out the 100 million US dollar a year industry.

The PNG Cocoa and Coconut Institute has told the relevant authorities that the dreaded cocoa pest has re-emerged, despite the Government already spending about 1-point-5 million US dollars to try to eradicate it.

Statistics from the Institute shows that East New Britain produces 60-percent of the national cocoa export output, 80-percent of which comes from small farmers.

The National newspaper reports the value of cocoa exports from the Province alone in 2006 was 59 million US dollars, which represented 50 percent of the province's total exports.

Past evidence shows that the pest is capable of wiping out 90-percent of PNG's cocoa production within three years if nothing is done, as it has already done so in parts of Asia.