20 acres for UWI/Mondelez cocoa breeding programme
20 acres of the St Augustine nurseries will be used for a cocoa breeding programme being done by Mondelēz International, owner of Cadbury, and the University of the West Indies, St Augustine.
In a statement, Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries, Clarence Rambharat, said Cabinet approved the lease for the programme which is being used to develop cocoa farms of the future (CFOF), made to withstand difficult climate conditions.
Mondelēz, the largest purchaser of cocoa and cocoa products globally, seeks to use genetic research to improve cocoa strains to withstand difficult conditions.
“Mondelēz and UWI’s Cocoa Research Centre have signed on to a long-term breeding programme in Trinidad and Tobago, where the International Cocoa Genebank and the custodian institution, the Cocoa Research Centre (CRC-UWI) exist.”
“According to the CRC-UWI the prebreeding programme will develop and employ a wide range of state-of-the-art technologies (molecular markers and genomic selection tools) to identify superior genetically enhanced lines.”
“These genetically enhanced material will be transferred to the various cocoa producing countries for field testing and release.”
It’s hoped this breed will be able to withstand diseases and the impacts of climate change.
“The tree will have in-built protection against the major diseases, climate change impacts and heavy metal contamination thus reducing the agricultural risk and production costs. Achieving the model cocoa tree requires considerable breeding effort using modern technologies that do not exist in Trinidad and Tobago,” Rambharat said.
Rambharat said the development can establish the company as the leader in cocoa research.
“This programme has the potential of making Trinidad and Tobago the hub of state-of-the-art technology development in cocoa genetics and breeding, a centre for training PhD students in cutting edge technologies and a hub for global collaboration and intellectual property development,” he said.