Technical support to Haitian cacao
Matlick, B. K.
Purdy, L. H.
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DescriptionThis project is focused on increasing crop yield and resistance to pests without use of pesticides, thus contributing to sustainable agriculture in Haiti.
This report is a compilation of four reports by cacao specialists, employed to make recommendations on improving production and quality of the cacao produced by farmers working with the Productive Land Use Systems (PLUS) Project, financed by USAID. (1) Cacao Yield Improvement Report: Findings: - Most cacao plantations in Haiti are unmanaged, resulting in excess shading, which severely depresses cacao yields. A simple program of pruning and stand thinning can give short-term yield increases of 30-50% in the first year following pruning. If 30% of PLUS cacao farmers make these improvements, this translates to an increase in production of 990 metric tons and economic benefits of $356,400. - Improved drying is critical to improved quality of cacao beans. - A disease resembling Witches Broom was observed in the Dame Marie area. - Rats were identified by farmers as a major pest. They can destroy up to 25% of the crop. - Failure to invest in tree renewal and improved production was a problem in previous cacao projects. Recommendations: -15-25 demonstration plots should be established to train farmers in proper cultural practices for cacao. Extension specialist Stevenson should determine the number and location of plots. - A plant pathologist should visit the Dame Marie area to identify the disease and recommend control measures. - Training in control of rats. - Training in proper post harvest processing: when and how to harvest, proper fermentation, sun drying and proper storage. - Purchase of two artificial dryers. - Improvements in sun drying capacity for six farmers cooperative buying stations. This is critical to improve quality. - Hiring of a full time local Agronomist, who will work on improving yields and cacao quality. He will learn from the consultants and M&M/*Mars and replace the need for the demonstration plot consultant starting in year two and in future years. (2) Assessment of the Presence of Witches Broom of Cacao Report: Findings: - Witches' broom caused by Crinipellis perniciosa is not present in Haiti. The disease that is present is FAN GALL, caused by Fusarium decemcellulare. - FAN GALL is present in a large area of western Grande Anse. - FAN GALL has been present in Haiti for more than 15 years and affects a low number of cacao trees. It is unlikely to increase in either frequency or virulence on cacao. FAN GALL is not a serious threat to production. - Genetic resistance to FAN GALL appears to be present in the cacao population. - New germplasm is not needed to reduce the frequency of FAN GALL. - Trees infected with FAN GALL should be removed and burned to prevent further spread. Recommendations: Education: Farmers should be shown the various symptoms of FAN GALL so that they can determine if tree removal can be adapted to their farms. Quarantine: If any introductions are considered, protocolas must be established for the safe transfer of cacao genetic materials and establishment of a very closely supervised secondary quarantine facility in Haiti. (3) Demonstration Plot Selection and Training Curricula, vol. 1 Findings: - Low yielding and unproductive trees were widespread in Grande Anse and Northern Haiti. - One or two good producing trees were found in most plots. These can serve as mother trees to furnish bud or vegetative material for grafting onto less productive trees. - Cacao trees are not properly pruned. Unpruned trees produce mostly suckers, instead of fruit and are tall and difficult to harvest. Pods at the top of the tree may be left unharvested, where they may be infected with black pod, which can spread to other trees, reducing yield. - Most of the cacao fields had greater than 50% shade, whereas 50 to 75% sunlight is required. This excess shading limits yield. Recommendations: - Shade should be adjusted to between 35 to 50%. - Diseased cacao trees should be destroyed. Accomplishments: Mr. Stevenson identified 11 demonstration plot sites. Preliminary curricula were established for demonstration plot training in upgrading of fields, including tree selection, grafting, pruning and shade adjustment. (4) Demonstration Plot Development and Training Curricula, vol. 2 Findings: - A clone garden for hybrid cacao production is located in Grande Rivière du Nord. Some trees produce 50 to over 100 pods. These trees may serve as source for tree buds. Training would be required to use this garden for seed production. - Termite damage was observed on old trees at Port Margot. Recommendations: - Select 5 most productive trees in clone garden for use in grafting and for additional clone gardens. - Prune top chupons quarterly and lower chupons monthly. - Reduce tree size to 4 to 5 meters after 1 year. This should be followed by 2 to 3 light maintenance prunings a year. If trees remain unproductive, graft. - When budding/grafting, stake new shoot to support one month after bud release. - Old tree above the graft may be cut at 90 days from budding provided shade is provided. - Grafting is only as good as the mother tree. - Prune shade trees that over shade cacao. - A program for new plantings should include demonstration plots to demonstrate spacing of cacao and shade trees, temporary shade, and management to the producing state. - Consultant should return in 90 days to check the demonstration plots and to address any other problems with cacao raised by PADF and CARE staff. Accomplishments: - Twelve demonstration plots were established. - Began training farmers, PADF, CARE, and SECID/Auburn agents in improved management techniques. - Created technical sheets.