- We talked to Luis Orozco Aguilar, Deputy Director for Cocoa Innovation and Research at MOCCA, who talked about the specifics of a unique event in the region.
- The congress is an initiative co-organized by MOCCA, Lutheran World Relief and technical partners CATIE, CRC and the Bioversity/CIAT partnership, the three research centers have extensive experience in applied research in cocoa.
How was the idea for this event born and what motivates you to join this initiative promoted by MOCCA?
The congress is a key action of MOCCA, that in coordination with national partners, universities and research centers, identified the need to make known the main efforts and research findings in one single event, to reach more users, technical teams and cocoa producers, and in this way translate these findings into applied recommendations for the crop.
CATIE, CRC and the Bioversity/CIAT partnership as the organizers of the event, decided to set up a venue for the exchange of ideas, lines of research and work approaches to advance extension agendas and support the generation of knowledge to improve cocoa productivity.
From your perspective and business, what is the level of progress in research in the region and how could this event contribute to local efforts?
At the regional level, several lines of research and field experiments are being developed, ranging from cocoa selection and genetic improvement, integrated pest and disease management, environmental services in cocoa FFS, to cocoa chemical and sensory evaluation, pollination, shade, agronomic practices, among others. The results of all these works will be shared at the Congress. These research projects defined research protocols and guidelines that can support partner local efforts.
“We hope that this exchange will identify opportunities for joint work that will generate an impact in the medium and long term, not only in the countries within the area of influence of our MOCCA Project, but also in the Latin American region” Luis Orozco Aguilar
What are the innovations and research approaches in cocoa that will be discussed in this congress?
The congress includes several novel topics and research approaches, among them:
1) New cocoa clones that have been developed in Mexico, Costa Rica and Ecuador.
2) Cadmium mapping results and mitigation measures in Central America.
3) FEDECACAO’s research, training and extension model.
4) Cacao cultivation models and management plans in Brazil, the Dominican Republic and Peru.
5) Cutting-edge topics such as physiology, growth and functional traits of cocoa in SAF as key elements for adaptation to climate change will be addressed.
All these topics enrich the research and experimentation agendas and strengthen the capacities of researchers and technical teams in MOCCA target countries.
As part of this forum, a call for abstracts was opened to receive research results from all over Latin America. A total of 95 abstracts from 12 countries were evaluated by a scientific committee, of which 50 theses have been included in the agenda. Could you mention some of the relevant findings and recommendations found and what practical solutions they offer to producers at the farm level?
The topics are really diverse, innovative and applied. Each group of researchers from the participating countries has different approaches and scopes in their research, but I can summarize the relevant findings and recommendations:
Perú proposes to estimate the cocoa harvest based on cocoa fruit growth stages, this in order to plan labor and logistics of commercial farms and estimate the profitability of the harvest.
Colombia, stated that shade affects the growth, physiology and production of cocoa plants and how to help design a modern SAF that reduces the competition with shade trees.
Honduras, based on controlled pollination, proposed planting arrangements, i.e., designs or combinations of clones or cocoa varieties that enhance compatibility or crosses between them and therefore increase pollination and productivity.
Ecuador will present the results of a very interesting work consisting of a combination of rootstock- grafting to reduce cadmium contamination in nursery production and proposes new times and practices for nursery management to ensure healthy and vigorous plants.
República Dominicana, will present new practices at the farm level that favor cocoa pollinator populations to increase yields.
Finally México will present the contributions of leaf litter to balance nutrients in cocoa SAF and how to manage soils.
MOCCA as a project, will present the progress of the map of cocoa flavors in Peru, Guatemala and Ecuador, an initiative of great impact in the market, which will show various stakeholders, but especially buyers, the wide range of special, fine and unique flavors of Latin American cocoa. This Flavor Map, developed by MOCCA’s lead for the cocoa component, Lutheran World Relief, is a useful tool to achieve differentiated prices that recognize the quality of our cocoa.
In addition to publicizing the results/findings of cocoa research, the congress aims to raise seed funds, can you explain where those funds are going and how they will be invested?
With the funds raised from the contributions of the participants and sponsoring companies, research projects of universities and research centers in the countries of influence of the MOCCA project in Ecuador, Peru, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala will be financed and disseminated. We encourage you to participate in this regional congress!