Agriculture ministry releases new cacao varities

Jakarta (Antara News) - The Agriculture Ministry has released new cacao varieties which were developed jointly by its research and development institute and ACIAR, Australia`s agricultural research agency, an Indonesian official said.

Released last month, the new cacao varieties had been code-named ARD-ACIAR10, ARD-ACIAR24 and ARD-ACIAR 25, Achmad Suryana, chief of the ministry`s research and development institute, said here Friday.

"The new varieties are excellent in that they are resistant to cacao pests," he said, adding that cacao pests were still a major threat to cacao production in the country.

So far, the measures that had been taken to deal with the problem had reduced but not eliminated it, he said.

Cacao farmers in Lampung province, he said, were employing a simple method to minimize the cacao pest threat, namely by promoting the presence of red and black ants at their plantations.

"Cacao plants serving as habitat of red or black ants are usually pest-free," he said.

The ministry last year also released two new cacao and two new coffee varieties.

Meanwhile, the Agriculture Ministry`s research nnd development institute and the Forestry Ministry`s directorate general of plantations on the one hand, and the World Bank and ACIAR on the other, are currently designing a cooperation project called "Sustainable Cacao Partnership" to increase the quality of Indonesian cacao.

The project would begin to be implemented in South Sulawesi in 2007. (*)
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