Cocoa Swollen Shoot Disease (CSSD)

The cocoa supply chain is under constant threat of a destructive virus that infects cocoa plants. With no known cure to the disease, cocoa organizations can now prevent the destruction of millions of plants by detecting the presence of the virus earlier.

Cocoa Production in West Africa

Most of the world’s cocoa comes from West Africa, with the two largest producers, Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana, accounting for nearly 60% of the total global cocoa production. 

Cocoa exports play a huge role in their economies and are an important source of income for millions of smallholder farmers.

CSSD: A Threat To The Cocoa Supply Chain

CSSD is caused by plant viruses and transmitted by mealybugs from infected to healthy cocoa plants of all stages, from seedlings to young and mature trees.  Infected plants can be asymptomatic for up to 2 years, but then start to show symptoms such as red leaf veins or swollen stems and roots, and die within 3-4 years of symptom development.

Several strains of the virus have been identified and the only known cure at the moment is cutting and destroying infected trees. The virus has already infected about 17% of Ghana’s cocoa areas (more than 300,000 ha) and more than 100,000 ha in Côte d’Ivoire. This problem threatens the livelihood of cocoa farmers and the cocoa industry in general, as it reduces cocoa yield by up to 70%.

Our Solution

SwissDeCode’s DNAFoil CSSD solution is an easy-to-perform testing kit that allows anyone out in the fields to quickly test cocoa plants, using their leaves as samples. The test can detect three strains of the virus, even before plants show any symptoms, providing results in less than 60 minutes.

A successful collaboration with Mars Wrigley has allowed SwissDeCode to understand the specific issues and requirements from cocoa farmers and trading organizations, and, consequently, to develop a kit that answers the industry’s needs.


▶ Virus detection even in asymptomatic plants

▶ Real-time monitoring of infection by CSSD

▶ Diminution of spread of CSSD to healthy cocoa plants

▶ Safeguarding of cocoa farmers’ income by reducing impact on cocoa yields

▶ Prevention of large-scale deforestation caused by recurring infections

▶ Improvement of sustainability in the cocoa and chocolate sector

Developed in collaboration with