The Philippines has the potential to produce 100,00 MT by 2020, according to the Philippines Cacao Road Map developed by the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Cacao Foundation of the Philippines, Inc. due to the country’s strategic location and favorable soil and climate conditions.
However, in 2015 the international Cacao Organization estimated a 30 to 40% loss is cacao production owing to insect pests and disease, the pod borer (CPD) and, cacao mirid bug (CMB) the more serious ones among the pests of cacao in country.
CBP feeds on the cacao bean pulp and the pods placenta, causing malformed and undersized beans severe infestations of CBP results in small flat stick together beans, yellowing, uneven or premature ripening of pods.
Meanwhile, cacao mirid bug feeds on cacao pods and shoots, inducing tissue decay resulting in non-productive cacao trees.
CMB’s natural enemies include a variety of wasps and spiders, such as the lynx spider, Oxyopes javanus Thorell.
A new species of Erythmelus has been found as a parasitoid of CMB.
Currently, researchers are mass rearing cacao mirid bug for efficiency testing of natural enemies. Also, a diet is being developed to mass rear lynx spider.
The project is being funded by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD) and the study is being conducted by Dr. Albert T. Barrion under the Cacao Pest Management Program: Biological-Based Approaches led by Dr. Divina Amalin DSLU and expected to run for two years.
The use of biological control has become a very promising alternative to the more traditional use of chemical pesticides in agricultural pest management according to the researchers, Dr. Divina Amalin and Dr. Alberto T. Barrion, both of DLSU.
Biological control uses other organisms in controlling pests, which can be insects, mites, weeds, and plant diseases, through predation (i.e., organism preying on the pest), parasitism (i.e., smaller organism causing harm on its host organism), or other natural mechanisms.
The project surveyed cacao-growing areas in Quezon, Bicol, and Davao regions previously reported with the insect pests as well as the insects and spiders that can be natural enemies or biological control of these pests.
An egg parasitoid, Trichogrammatoidea cojuancoi Nagaraja, was reported to be active against CPB in Davao del Sur, particularly in areas where there has been no insecticide spraying for a long time. However, it was not collected during the survey as bananas replaced cacao.
Another possible natural enemy, Paraphylax sp. was found parasitizing CPB in some of the cacao-growing areas in Davao del Sur. Both of these biological control agents are currently being attempted to be retrieved and collected.(PSciJourn MegaManila).