"WCF is pleased to support the establishment of the Americas Cacao Breeders Group and the International Cacao Collection," said Bill Guyton, WCF President. "With threats to cocoa including pests, disease and climate change, the Collection is an important resource for the global cocoa community to conserve the unique genetic makeup of the cocoa plant."
The Americas currently produce approximately 13% of the world's cacao, however, average productivity remains low (approximately 300 - 500 kg/ha) due to the effects of devastating diseases and limited incorporation of good agricultural practices. The Group will take advantage of successful models developed in Africa and Asia, which are supported by WCF, and will exchange information on progress obtained by cacao breeders in the Americas, discuss cacao germplasm exchange in the Americas, and facilitate dialogue between cacao breeders and the private sector.
"The future of chocolate is threatened by the increasing effect of diseases and weather changes," said Wilbert Phillips, Curator of the International Cacao Genebank at CATIE. "However, the genetic richness of this tropical American species could radically change the prognoses, serving as the basis for creating varieties that diminish the risks as it has been demonstrating in Central America, where the species was domesticated a long time ago."