Chocolate is in danger: a virus destroys cocoa crops

Chocolate is in danger: a virus destroys cocoa crops

Chocolate is in danger: a virus destroys cocoa cropsAgencies

Chocolate can suffer from one Low production And one Price increase If a quick cure is not found for the problem that has just appeared. One virus The rapid spread threatens the health of the cocoa tree, and therefore the dried seeds from which chocolate is made, endangering global supplies of the world's most popular candy.

About the 50% of the world's chocolate It comes from cocoa trees Ivory Coast and Ghana, West African countries. The virus attacks crops in Ghana, causing crop losses ranging between 15% and 50%, according to a recently published study.

The disease is spread by small insects called “cochineals” that eat tree leaves, buds and flowers Cocoa bud swollen virus (CSSVD) is one of the most harmful threats to the primary component of chocolate.

Farmer next to a cocoa tree, Ghana

It is a real threat to global chocolate supplies“, says Benito Chen-Charpentier, professor of mathematics at the University of Texas at Arlington (USA) and author of “Cocoa Sustainability: The Case of Cocoa Bud Virus Coinfection,” which has just been published in the journal One plus.

“Insecticides do not work well against mealybugs, forcing farmers to try to prevent the spread of the disease by cutting down infected trees and planting resistant specimens. But despite these efforts, Ghana has already lost More than 254 million cocoa trees In recent years,” the expert adds.

Growers can combat 'cochineal' through management Vaccines To trees to inoculate them with the virus. But these vaccines exist Cares aboutEspecially for low-income farmers, as is often the case with Ghanaian farmers, pollinated trees produce a lower cocoa yield, exacerbating the situation.

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Looking for solutions

Chen Charpentier and colleagues at the University of Kansas, Prairie View A&M, the University of South Florida, and the Ghana Cocoa Research Institute have developed a method New strategy: Use mathematical data to determine how far farmers can plant fortified trees to prevent “bugs” from jumping from tree to tree and spreading the virus.

Cocoa fruits.

“The cochineal moves in different ways: from one cup to another, carried by ants, or dragged by the wind,” explains Chen Charpentier. “What we needed to do was create a model for cocoa farmers, so they could know this How far can they grow? Safely on inoculated trees from non-vaccinated trees, to avoid the spread of the virus while at the same time maintaining affordable costs for small farmers.”

experience with Sports techniques In terms of pattern making, the team created two different types of patterns that allow farmers to create a protective layer of fortified cocoa trees around non-fortified trees.

“Although these models are still experimental, they are interesting because they will help farmers protect their crops and get better yields,” says Chen Charpentier. “This is good for farmers and also good for the world's chocolate addiction,” he joked.

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