Pest and disease and climate change pose a major threat to future cocoa production. Up to 40% of the annual global cocoa harvest is lost to pest and disease and climate change will exacerbate losses by exposing trees to more frequent climate extremes and new pests and diseases. These losses mean not only a loss of revenue from lower yields but wasted inputs such as irrigation, fertiliser and labour. Traditional methods of monitoring crops in terms of both health and yield rely on manual labour. In the case of cocoa, in-season monitoring of yield is based on regular, manual counting of pods at different stages of maturity. Similarly, field scouting is used to monitor pests and disease. These methods are not only costly but also prone to human error. Crop health monitoring and pod counting solutions that enable continuous, real-time, in-season tracking could allow for more accurate monitoring and measurement with fewer labour resources. Digital collection of data would also enable long-term records to be developed to better understand yield challenges to cocoa in a changing climate.
Possible approaches but not limited to, include AI image analysis, electronic noses, and other emerging sensing solutions (e.g. for plant volatiles)
In addition, the proposed technology should include:
Commonly available digital agriculture solutions