Pests threaten cocoa plots
Published on: Thursday, October 23, 1980

DAILY EXPRESS (Thursday, October 23, 1980) - KOTA KINABALU, Wed. – A new cocoa pest which can cause serious damage to cocoa has been found in some cocoa growing areas in Tawau, the Director of Agriculture Aripen bin Datuk Haji Ampong disclosed today. 

The pest has been identified as the larva or caterpillar of the Cocoa Moth, Acrocercops Cramerella.

It causes damage by boring through the husk to the flesh of the cocoa fruit. Encik Aripen, however, advised cocoa growers not to get unduly alarmed by the pest as the Sabah Department of Agriculture was taking “all the necessary steps to control and contain the outbreak of this pest.” 

He added that the Agriculture Department needed the full support and cooperation of all cocoa growers in the State. The following steps, he said, are being taken to control the pest: 

(a) A survey is being carried out to determine the extent of infestation, in order that proper control measure can be undertaken. 

(b) The Research Branch of the Agriculture Department is carrying out investigations on effective chemical control of the Cocoa Moth using insecticides. 

(c) To prevent the spread of infestation, there is need to ban movement of cocoa pods in and out of any affected areas. (d)Under the Pest Regulation (Act 167) cocoa land-owners are required to be on the alert for this pest in their plantation and to report any case of outbreak to their District Agriculture Office. It is also their duty to bury all infested pods to prevent any further spread of the pest. 

Should any cocoa grower have any doubt on any aspect of this pest, he should get in touch with the District Agriculture Officer for technical assistance, Encik Aripen said. 

Meanwhile Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Datuk Lim Guan Sing said that this was the first time such a pest outbreak has occurred in Sabah. 

He said it was feared that such pests if left uncontrolled might get out of hand and adversely affect the cocoa industry, as similar experiences in other countries have shown. 

“Fortunately there has been no report so far of the Cocoa Moth in other areas of Sabah. “The situation calls for immediate action to prevent the Moth from further spreading, Datuk Lim said. 

He said he had issued the order for a complete ban on the import of rambutan, langsat and related fruits from all tropical countries at all seaports and airports including those fruits hand carried by visitors from these countries. The ban will be reviewed on a month to month basis. Datuk Lim added that the Director of Agriculture would soon give more details on the identification of the moth and the methods to be used to eradicate it. 

Government personnel will also be deployed to carry out a thorough census of all estates and small holdings to ascertain the presence of such a pest.

The Minister also called on cocoa growers to give their fullest cooperation by:

a) Reporting to the nearest Agriculture Officers or District Office any incidence of cocoa pods showing symptoms of attack by the Cocoa Moth;

b) Immediately breaking pods from piles of 300 to 400 in close proximity with the trees from which they were harvested. This will facilitate identification of the trees from which affected pods have been picked: 

c) Completely removing and destroying all cocoa pods, large and small, from all trees in the affected areas for the present season. This treatment must extend to a depth of at least ten trees beyond those infested. All pods removed must be buried under at least eight inches of soil: 

d) Immediately stopping movement of cocoa pods from one area to another. 

Datuk Lim stressed that this is a priority matter that requires the co-operation of each and everyone involved in cocoa planting, in order to prevent the Cocoa Moth from further outspreading. 

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