The battle to save the world’s favorite treat

Full article here (paywalled, need an account).

Archived Comments

I like this article. Cocoa agriculture is famous for its poor yield. It’s horrendous for poor farmers and makes cocoa farming less attractive, so the more help farmers can get, the better. What I like about this article though is the emphasis on breeding not only for hardiness of the cocoa pod, but flavor. Indeed, the article stated that the researchers at the Cacao Genetic Improvement Program reject hybrids that are hardy but don’t produce good flavor. EUREKA. Also, a big emphasis on diversity of the hardiness. Frosty pod rot should be taken seriously. An entire industry could be wiped out. Consider what’s happening to the citrus industry. Citrus greening, caused by the Asian citrus psyllid, doesn’t kill the fruit, it gradually kills the plant. No cure yet, and it’s now present worldwide. Cocoa farmers often can’t even afford the treatments for frosty pod rot, so trees that are more resistant — and deliver a desirable flavor profile, would be like oxygen to them. Better yield, better flavor, ability to use less pesticide. It’s the holy trinity — everyone wins. I just hope they can scale up — and maintain funding going forward — before the damage gets overwhelming.

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