SwissDeCode test aims to curb disease of cocoa trees


Lausanne/Accra – A test from SwissDeCode makes it possible to detect Cacao-swollen-shoot disease, which is spread by viruses, even on symptomless cocoa trees. This allows the disease to be detected more quickly and its spread to be contained. The federal government is now supporting a project in Ghana.

Cacao-swollen-shoot disease reduces the production of cocoa beans on trees and kills them. There is no treatment yet for the virus-borne disease. SwissDeCode, a Lausanne-based company founded in 2016, has developed a test that can diagnose the disease on the tree’s foliage before it shows symptoms. This will help contain the spread of the disease and avoid large-scale deforestation in favor of replacement plantings.

As the Swiss platform for sustainable cocoa writes in a statement, SwissDeCode is now bringing this test to Ghana. There, the test will first be verified in practice and, in a second phase, carried out in field trials in agricultural cooperatives. The easy-to-use test has the potential to help up to 14 million affected smallholder farmers, Sonja Fabrio, Director Business Development at SwissDeCode, is quoted as saying in the release.

451,000 francs are available for the project. Of this, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs is providing CHF 150,000. Project partners include U.S. confectioners Mars and Mondelez, their German competitor August Storck, and cocoa marketer Fludor in Ghana. ce/stk