Frosty Pod Rot in Cocoa Is Worse Than Witches’ Broom, ICCO Says

The frosty pod rot fungus spreading in Latin American cocoa crops represents a potentially “enormous” threat, according to the International Cocoa Organization’s Laurent Pipitone.

The fungus is affecting the crop in Colombia, Ecuador, the western part of Venezuela and Peru. It also spread to Central America and reached Mexico in 2005, Pipitone, director of the economics and statistics division at the ICCO, said today by phone from London.

“While in a global cocoa context the current annual loss from frosty pod is small, the potential threat presented by the disease is enormous,” he said in an earlier e-mail. The fungus is “more destructive and difficult to control” than black pod rot and witches’ broom, he added.

The fungus hasn’t yet been detected in Brazil, he said. Witches’ broom, a fungus that damages the branches of plants, slashed production by 70 percent over a 10-year period after it emerged in the country’s Bahia region, the ICCO said on its website.

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