A £1m specialist facility has been created at Reading University in UK to protect and preserve over 400 different varieties of the cocoa plant.
The facility should allay concerns of recent media coverage predicting world cocoa shortages.
The International Cocoa Quarantine Centre (ICQC) at Reading University will be responsible for collecting new cocoa seeds and facilitating research into breeding plant varieties that will be more resistant to disease.
In their greenhouses, they will be quarantining the seeds from all new diseases and pests, and growing healthier, more reliable plants in a hydroponic growing system.
The plants there are used to supply Ghana and other major cocoa producers, as well as some of the smaller newer producers like Vietnam.
Secretary of the Kuapa Kokoo Farmers Union, Appiah Kwarteng, and Emmanuel Arthur, Managing Director of Kuapa Kokoo Limited have been guests of the ICQC.
They were in the UK for the Board Meeting of Kuapa’s chocolate company, Divine Chocolate, and spent some time with Director of the ICQC programme, Dr Andrew Daymond and Michelle End of the Cocoa Research Association.
“The visit provided a nice opportunity both to explain the work that we are doing at the University of Reading to Ghanaian cocoa farmers, but also to learn more about the projects that Kuapa Kokoo are involved in,” said Dr Daymond.
The two Kuapa Kokoo representatives were impressed with the facility and the project. “It’s good to know a place like this exists,” said Mr Arthur. “We need to take this up seriously – buyers want to know how we are helping the farmers to improve production and increasing our volumes – they want to know we are a sustainable business”.
He heard that the ICQC is partnering with the MMSP breeding programme in Mabang Megakarya, and he expressed an interest in liaising with them.
Kuapa farmer and KKFU Secretary, Mr Appiah Kwarteng was keen to know how it can improve Kuapa members’ yields and future sustainability.
“I am very pleased to see this research being done, and it would be interesting to see more of these species coming to Ghana,” he said. “It will be good if the results of this research are made available to us farmers. We hope that Kuapa can benefit,” he added.
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