Cameroon Cocoa Caterpillar Attacks Drop After Rains, Pesticides

Heavy rains this weekend in Cameroon’s main cocoa production area drove away caterpillars that have been attacking the crop during the past three weeks, the Ministry of Agriculture said.

The caterpillars had fallen on cocoa leaves in the southwest region and “consumed them with an aggressive appetite,” Nkeangnyi Laurence, a ministry delegate for Manyu said by phone today, in Mamfe, about 550 kilometers (342 miles) outside of Yaounde, the capital. “This is certainly going to affect production this season,” Laurence said.

Plants take a year to recuperate, James Mosima, vice president of the Cameroon National Association of Cocoa and Coffee Producers, said in a phone interview from his cocoa farm in Konye. “We are happy the attack has subsided,” he said, adding pesticides had also helped.

Mosima and Laurence said several hectares of cocoa had been destroyed by the caterpillar attacks and declined to give a more specific estimate.

About 240,000 metric tons of cocoa was produced in the Central African nation in 2010-11, with the southwest region contributing 60 percent.

To contact the reporter on this story: Pius Lukong in Yaounde via Accra at ebowers1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net

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