CacaoNet meeting on cocoa genetic resources

Cocoa genetic resources are kind of taken for granted in the cocoa world. Genetic resources include the wild, uncultivated, and uncollected varieties of cocoa still growing in the Amazon and Orinoco river basins, the original home of cocoa as well as the large collections of cocoa varieties which have been collected and are maintained in Trinidad (ICG,T) and Costa Rica (CATIE). These relatively uncharacterised varieties may have new sources of disease resistance or new quality attributes which cocoa breeders need to develop new, improved cocoa varieties for farmers. To move cocoa varieties around the world safely, without spreading diseases you need a quarantine facility (University of Reading), information systems to catalogue information on varieties (ICGD), and finally germplasm collections in the cocoa producing countries of South America, West Africa and Asia. Drawing all these components of cocoa genetic resources into a global strategy is the job of CacaoNet, set up in 2005 and officially launched in 2006 at the 15th International Cocoa Research Conference in Costa Rica.

Last week, CacaoNet met for 3 days at the University of Reading to put the finishing touches to a Global Strategy for the Conservation and Use of Cacao Genetic Resources. Here’s some shots from day 1 – where Collecting Policy, Safe Movement of Germplasm and Genetic Diversity in Genebank Collections were discussed.

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The CacaoNet group

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Discussion of Safe Movement of Cacao Germplasm

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Prof. Umaharan from the Cocoa Research Unit, Trinidad joining in by videoconference

Some more photos from the CacaoNet meeting day 2, where the group discussed Utilisation of the Cacao Collections, Cyopreservation of Cacao Germplasm, and the composition of Global Stategic Collections of cacao germplasm.

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Last day of the CacaoNet meeting – where we covered Constraints and Needs for Capacity Building, resource MobilisatiOn and reviewed the actions needed to finish off the strategy. Excellent meeting !

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Martin Gilmour, Jan Engels

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Rob Lockwood, Martin Gilmour, Désiré Poku

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