CATIE and KoLFACI are seeking to demonstrate the benefits of good agricultural practices and superior varieties in cocoa production
- The study aims to prove that Latin America and the Caribbean can reduce the effect of diseases affecting cocoa and increase production and income of cocoa families thanks to this production model
July, 5th 2017. 60% of the cocoa plots of the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean are managed in a traditional way. Given this scenario and looking for solutions to cacao problems, including low production, unsuitable materials, old plantations and susceptibility to diseases, The Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center(CATIE) and the Korea – Latin America Food and Agriculture Cooperation Initiative (KoLFACI) seek to experimentally demonstrate that the implementation of good agricultural practices and the use of higher cocoa varieties can significantly strengthen cocoa production in the region.
"The way cocoa plots have been managed in the region and the problems accentuated by climate change have caused a production decrease in farms, therefore farmers have a low standard of living. We do not want to continue to perpetuate poverty in cocoa plantations and that is why we decided to develop this study, "expressed Wilbert Phillips, chief of CATIE´s Cocoa Genetic Improvement Program and coordinator of the initiative.
The study consists of an experiment that will establish a regional network of validation plots in eight countries: Peru, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala and the Dominican Republic. Each parcel will be divided into two parts, one will applied the traditional management of the farmer and the other a technological package that includes good agronomic practices and superior cocoa varieties.
"The technological package will include shade management, cocoa pruning, fertilization, integrated disease management and treetops replacement of old trees through grafting with high production varieties, disease tolerance and good industrial quality," Phillips said.
Two plots will be established in two contrasting sites on each country. In addition, during and after the execution of the study the plots will serve as demonstration plots and for training.
A record of the practices performed and associated costs from each plot will be taken, as well as the production of cocoa obtained to finally make a cost-benefit analysis and determine if it is a viable option. "The intervention of traditional cocoa plantations through the application of the recommended technological package is expected to significantly increase the production and income of farms and reduce the effect of diseases. This will positively impact the entire cocoa chain and particularly the producing families and their communities, "said Phillips.
Phillips expressed that they also expect to know the producer's reaction to the technological proposal and the level of adoption, as well as to obtain solid, robust and reliable data from the region that will support decision making and can be used to make a transfer of technologies to the producers.
Idelfonso Medina, director of the Cocoa Department of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Dominican Republic, manifested they have high expectations of this initiative because unlike most countries in the region, Dominican Republic is free of Monilia. However, there is a threat of the incursion of this disease in the country, so it is very important for them to learn from the experiences of other countries and to be trained in the management of pests and diseases.
From July 3rd to the 5th, representatives of the countries involved are gathered at CATIE headquarters, in Costa Rica participating in a workshop that prepares an implementation plan which includes the design of protocols and standardized evaluation forms to coordinate the study development on each country.
This study is carried out within the framework of the project Improvement of cocoa production using improved germplasm and selected practices of climate-smart agriculture, which is coordinated by CATIE, with the support of KoLFACI, through the government from Korea.
Karla Salazar Leiva
Office of Communication and Advocacy
Cocoa Genetic Improvement Program