Sunneal Wilson, Chief Plant Quarantine Produce Inspector in the Ministry of Agriculture
It is being reported that the frosty pod rot disease which has emerged in some cocoa producing areas in Jamaica is spreading.
Sunneal Wilson, Chief Plant Quarantine Produce Inspector in the Ministry of Agriculture, said according to a recent survey of seven cocoa producing parishes, the disease has been identified in Clarendon, St. Catherine, St. Andrew and St. Mary.
There is concern that it is spreading in St. Mary with reports that about 67 per cent of the parish's cocoa production being affected.
"St. Mary is one of the major concern (sic) for us because St. Mary is actually the parish that produces the hallmark flavour for the cocoa or what we call premium cocoa flavour that give (sic) Jamaica its high price for actual cocoa that goes into making chocolate," said Ms Wilson, who was speaking on Tuesday at a JIS Think Tank.
Portland and St. Thomas have not been affected by the frosty pod rot disease.
A statement last month from the Agriculture Ministry said a number of measures had been taken since confirmation of the disease locally in August 2016.
The Plant Pest Emergency Response Team was activated.
The Frosty Pod Rot Order 2016 was enacted to curtail the spread of the highly infectious fungus.
Several activities were also conducted including stripping, pruning and spraying, while more than 500 farmers were sensitized in the affected areas of Clarendon, St. Mary, St. Catherine and St. Andrew.
The Agriculture Ministry will increase training and sensitisation sessions in cocoa producing parishes as part of efforts to prevent the spread of the frosty pod rot disease.
This is scheduled to begin in St. Mary this month.
The parish has the largest acreage of cocoa farms in Jamaica.