Quarantine center in rural England guards against cocoa blight

Ari Shapiro, reporting on NPR:

Cocoa is unusually susceptible to disease. Every year, a third of the crop is destroyed by fungi and pests with names like “Witches’ Broom,” “Frosty Pod Rot,” and “Vascular-streak dieback.”

A few years ago, one of these cocoa diseases hit Brazil. At the time, “Brazil was one of the world’s largest cocoa-producing countries,” says Laurent Pipitone of the International Cocoa Organization in London. “When this new disease came, it reduced their production by about half.”

For a while, it looked like there might not be enough cocoa to feed the world’s hunger for chocolate.

Today, global demand is growing fast, says Bill Guyton, president of the World Cocoa Foundation in Washington, D.C. “There’s a concern in the future that we may not have enough supply if we don’t improve productivity on the existing farms,” he says. Europeans and Americans keep eating piles of chocolate, while people in China and India have a growing appetite for it, too.

As a heavy connoisseur of chocolate, it gives me some peace of mind that there are cocoa guardians dedicated to protecting this most precious plant!