90% of world cacao production comes from smallholder farmers in developing countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America. Cacao production has always been plagued by serious losses from pests and diseases, with estimates ranging as high as 30% to 40% of global production. Scientists worldwide are looking for ways to produce cacao trees that can resist evolving pests and diseases, tolerate droughts, meet manufacturer’s needs and produce higher yields.
The future of cacao production depends on the availability of genetic diversity and the sustainable use of this broad genetic base to breed improved varieties. The possibility to exchange cacao germplasm is an essential condition for use in research, plant breeding and agricultural development, but brings with it the potential risk of transferring of pests and diseases. The risk is particularly acute when germplasm is moved between cacao-growing regions that have different endemic diseases.
The CacaoNet Technical Guidelines for the Safe Movement of Cacao Germplasm provide updated information on the precautions and quarantine measures that can be taken to minimize the risk of spread of pests and diseases when cacao genetic resources are being moved. They are based on those last published by FAO/IPGRI in 1999 but have been revised and expanded by a group of experts set up within CacaoNet – the Global Cacao Genetic Resources Network coordinated by Bioversity International – taking account of new knowledge of the pests and diseases, including their current distribution, and advances in detection techniques.
The Guidelines are available in English, French and Spanish.
The publication of these Guidelines has been supported by financial and in-kind contributions from Bioversity International, the CGIAR Research Programme on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, the Cocoa Research Association Ltd., UK (CRA Ltd., a UK-based organization managing scientific cocoa research on behalf of Mars Mondelēz International and the London Cocoa Trade NYSE-Liffe) and the University of Reading. CacaoNet has received additional financial support from Mars, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service (USDA/ARS) and the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF).
Photo: Cacao pods lie on the ground after harvesting.
Credit: Bioversity International
This story is part of the 2014 Annual Report