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Chocolate CrisisClimate Change and Other Threats to the Future of Cacao$
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Dale Walters

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9781683401674

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9781683401674.001.0001

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Witches’ Broom

Witches’ Broom

(p.72) 6 Witches’ Broom
Chocolate Crisis

Dale Walters

University Press of Florida

In this chapter, the deadly witches’ broom disease is unmasked. Its true identity took considerable time to unravel, but the perseverance of researchers paid off and it turned out that the agent responsible is Moniliophthora perniciosa, a close relative of the frosty pod rot pathogen. The pathogen spread across the northern areas of South America and into the Caribbean, causing devastation from which cacao production in some countries never fully recovered. The major cacao-growing region of Bahia in Brazil remained free of the disease for a long time, but all that changed in the late 1980s. The discovery of witches’ broom there had far-reaching consequences for cacao production in Brazil, effects which are still felt today. This chapter looks at the efforts made to understand the pathogen and the disease it causes, and how this research informs work aimed at tackling the disease.

Keywords:   witches’ broom, Moniliophthora perniciosa, frosty pod rot pathogen, Brazil, Bahia, cacao production

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