We are Cocoa Research Centre

We are Cocoa Research Centre


At the Cocoa Research Centre
we have a very vibrant team that works
on research, conservation and
outreach activities. This team consists of people
who work on disease resistance, morphology of cocoa and the
varieties of cocoa we have, genetics and DNA
fingerprinting, quality of cocoa and how the
quality can be managed to improve the
value of cocoa. The Cocoa Research Centre
was established in 1930, so we have 87 years of experience
in working on cocoa related research and outreach activities. The Cocoa Research Centre
has 3 major mandates. The first is the conservation
of genetic resources. So we have an international
cocoa gene bank which has 2,400
varieties of cocoa and this gene
bank is used to support breeding
programs around the world. So for breeders we
supply different varieties that they need for
breeding purposes from Trinidad through an
intermediary quarantine at the University of Reading
in the United Kingdom. The second mandate is research. We support research in a variety
of areas including improving productivity of
the cocoa plant, overcoming challenges
that cocoa faces (such as diseases,
droughts and cadmium) and we also work on
improving quality of cocoa through various methods of
processing the cocoa beans. With regard
to outreach, we provide a variety of training
programs in chocolate making, in training in grafting
methodologies, improving the productivity
through various methods of disease management, and we also offer training
in sensory analysis. In the area of technical
assistance we have supported many countries in
the Caribbean region as well as in Latin
America with regards to improving quality along
the value chain and improving
productivity. With regards
to research we offer research
assistance to some of the major chocolate
companies in the world (such as Mondelez and
Mars and Nestle and so on.) One of the areas in which
our research has focused on is to reducing the amount
of cadmium contamination in cocoa beans. We have a project that is funded
by the European cocoa industry to reduce the amount of cadmium
absorption by the plant and we are looking at
a number of approaches to reducing this
contamination. We also work on
drought tolerance. Many parts of the world
where drought is becoming an important constraint
to cocoa production, there is a threat that
cocoa production will not be able to
continue in these areas, so we are looking at varieties
in our international collection that can tolerate drought and
these varieties can be supplied to breeders who can now
develop varieties of cocoa tolerant to the droughts. Trinidad and Tobago had a very
lucrative cocoa industry in the 1920s, when Trinidad used to produce
30,000 to 40,000 tons of cocoa, and it was one of the mainstay
of Trinidad and Tobago’s economy. But over the years the
industry has declined and at the present time
the industry produces about 300 to 400
tons of cocoa which is a minuscule of
what we used to produce. The objective of the Cocoa
Research Centre is to revive the production through
working with farmers to increase their
business models. So through this
we are hoping that we can increase the
productivity of cocoa and therefore the profitability
of the farmer so that farming of cocoa
will become an important industry in Trinidad and Tobago. We are also supporting
the value addition industry so that we can
convert the cocoa that we produce into
value added product such as chocolates and beverages
and cuisines and so on, so that we can build a
value added industry around the
cocoa sector so that it creates
employment opportunities for persons in
Trinidad and Tobago.

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