Cocoa is a major source of income for rural families and plays an important role in wealth generation and improving the quality of life in many tropical countries, including Papua New Guinea (PNG). However, the potential benefits of new planting materials available since the 1980s have not been realised. Improved management of mature cocoa stands could produce sustainable yields of more than 1,000 kg per hectare per year, but average yields remain at 300 kg of dry cocoa beans per hectare per year.
This booklet accompanies the ‘Classroom in the Cocoa Block’ training, which is part of a suite of projects funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) in PNG that strategically address knowledge gaps in cocoa production. New management approaches, based on sound agronomic practices and integrated pest and disease management (IPDM) strategies, have been developed to assist farmers to optimise their cocoa production. Farmers can expect significantly higher yields if these approaches are implemented completely and correctly.
A key feature of the development of the IPDM strategies is acknowledging that individual farmers and their families differ in their priorities and levels of access to resources. The aim is to demonstrate options and assist farmers in their choices of the most appropriate management level for their particular circumstances. The project ‘Enhancing Papua New Guinea Smallholder Cocoa Production through Greater Adoption of Disease Control Practices’ aims to develop pest and disease management options that make it possible to meet the PNG target of 100,000 tonnes of dry cocoa beans per year by 2012.
The principles underlying improved cocoa management in PNG apply to other regions as well, and ACIAR hopes this booklet and the accompanying training will be used widely