Pests Invasion Threatens To Wipe Out Over 5,000 Cocoa Farms

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An infected cocoa plant

By; VITALIS UGOH, Calabar

Strange larvae have invaded over five thousand cocoa farms in Irruan community in Boki Local Government Area of Cross River State, eating up virtually all the green leaves of the plant and killing most of them.

The infestation which started about a month ago has defiled all known insecticides by farmers to destroy the larvae stage of an unknown insect.

Our correspondent who visited some of the affected farms in the area reports that hundreds of thousands of cocoa plants no longer have green leaves as they have all been consumed by the larvae which were seemingly hyper active at night.

Apart from the leaves being consumed, the green pods as well as the okra stages of cocoa have been seriously affected.

Also destroyed were pear, mango, plantain, kola nut and other economic trees inhibiting fruiting and destroying the fruited ones.

Consequently, cocoa production in the area has dropped drastically from over thirty thousand metric tones to less than twenty percent affecting the cocoa farmers in most unprecedented manner.

Mr. Emmanuel Enyia, who is a major cocoa merchant in boki said that the disaster has affected his business as he could no longer meet up his stock.

He lamented that most farmers who got soft loans from him for cocoa beans may find it difficult to repay the loans.

Another  farmer, Mr. Thomas Bisong, said that he had lost virtually all his farms to the disaster and that it may take him up to four years to recover.

Also speaking chief Charles Akpere,  said that the aggressive larvae seem to defile all chemicals and that an urgent study must be done to curtail the menace.

Speaking also, Barrister Michael Akan, said ten of his cocoa farms of several acres have been destroyed by the infestation and that the trees were dying rapidly.

He appealed to the state government to urgently intervene and attract national and international attention to attack the larvae.

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