Published: Saturday 31 May 1997

Cocoa farmers in Indonesia may soon hope to boost their crop production by up to 30 per cent, by introducing new harvesting and pruning techniques that limit pest damage. Tests in south Sulawesi showed success in considerably cutting down the population of the dreaded pod borer moth, said Halim Razak, vice chairperson of the Indonesia Cocoa Association. "The results have been fantastic," he exclaimed.

According to the new technique, the pruning creates an open canopy that can be penetrated by sunshine - an anathema to the pest - while the regular harvest prevents the larvae from developing into caterpillars and later into moths. Indonesia's cocoa production is estimated at between 319,000-330,000 tonne in 1997. The output is expected to exceed 400,000 tonne by ad 2000.

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