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  • A Framework for Measuring Infestation Level on Cacao Pods



    Cacao grows best in the tropical regions with a humid climate and a good amount of rainfall. Philippines belong to this region where the climatic conditions and soil characteristics are conducive to grow cacao. However, pests and diseases plagued the farms during the 1980s, leading to the fall of the Philippine cacao market. Nowadays, the world’s cacao demand is supplied by Ivory Coast (38%), Ghana (21%), Indonesia (13%), Brazil (4%), Malaysia (1%) (Krishnamoorthy 2013). The Philippines accounts for only less than 0.5%.

    Several diseases affect cacao pods worldwide, losing up to 40% of production annually (Ploetz 2007). Some farms even suffer up to 90% of losses in plantations (Hebbar 2007). The Philippine Bureau of Agricultural Research reports the following most common cacao pests and diseases in the Philippines: black pod rot, vascular streak dieback, cacao pod borer, helopeltis, and cacao stem borer. Black Pod Rotting alone causes 20 to 30% pod losses, and kills up to 10% of trees annually through stem cankers (Guest 2007, Adomako 2007, Appiah 2004).

    To reduce the damage of pests and diseases in the cacao industry, visual surveillance of cacao pods are done. As of today, most farmers and agricultural technicians manually performs the visual inspection of the pods while comparing them to an aid to assess the severity of the disease. These aids comes in the form of a severity index for cacao pod rot based on a scale of 0 to 5 (see Figure \ref{fig:visualAid} below), patterned from Alvindia and Acda’s work on managing anthracnose of mangoes (Alvindia 2015).