- The Chocolate4All project established a soil laboratory with technological equipment at the National University of Agriculture of Catacamas (UNAG).
An essential part of the productivity of a cacao plantation is largely related to the nutrients that the soil provides to the cacao plant during its growth and development. By knowing the soil, farming families are able to know if they should fertilize their cocoa plantation and what type of fertilizer to use, but in Olancho, Honduras, until a few months ago there was no laboratory where the soil could be analyzed. The Chocolate4All project changed this reality by establishing a soil laboratory with state-of-the-art equipment at the National University of Agriculture of Catacamas (UNAG, its Spanish acronym).
Currently, the laboratory is at the service of the different actors in the cocoa sector in Olancho: producing families, technicians, teaching staff and the student community.
"This laboratory will allow us to perform all those analyses that producers are demanding and need for their crops, now we can help and support them with the appropriate recommendations and thus have a desired production; but it will also strengthen us academically, our capabilities as teachers and those of the students," said Selvin Antonio Saravia, UNAG professor in the area of soils and technician of the new soil laboratory
With the equipment donated by Chocolate4All, the laboratory can perform soil sample analysis, tissue sample analysis and organic substrate analysis, which determine the essential chemical elements (such as phosphorus, potassium, calcium and micronutrients) that the plant requires for its nutrition.
"These analyses allow us to know the amount of available nutrients in the soil and subsequently make an appropriate and indicated recommendation to the producer, based on the characteristics and the amount of nutrients that the soil is providing. In turn, this will allow the producer to fertilize properly, at the right time, with the right dose and the right source, thus ensuring their economic costs and optimal production," said Saravia.
Finally, Saravia explained that in the future the laboratory will be able to provide services to another range of crops, not only to cocoa as such, since Olancho is a department with important agricultural activities and the university will be able to offer soil analysis services to the entire population in general, for any type of crop.
The Chocolate4All project was executed by Heifer International Honduras and financed by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), with technical support from CATIE (Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center) and UNAG, in its field interventions and training
Coffee and Cocoa Agroforestry and Plant Breeding Unit
Karla Salazar Leiva
Information Technology and Communication