Most of the cocoa grown today is produced by smallholder farmers in countries such as Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana and Indonesia. Although yields of over 3 tonnes per hectare have been reported, most farmers are achieving yields of less than 400 kg per hectare due to a combination of factors including heavy losses to pests and diseases, low soil fertility and poor planting materials. Drier conditions, possibly due to local deforestation, are already making it difficult to plant new cocoa trees in some regions and the effects of climate change in cocoa producing areas are difficult to predict. Pressures on the availability of suitable land, the economic returns from growing cocoa versus other crops and a diminishing pool of agricultural labour mean that future production must be more efficient, with an improvement in the farm's overall economy whilst ensuring the safety of the farmer, his community and their environment.
The overall aim of the UK cocoa research programmes is to contribute to the modernisation of cocoa farming through the development of integrated crop management systems. Such systems will incorporate improved planting materials, better agronomic practices and biological control with rational pesticide use where appropriate to combat today's major pests and diseases. Research is also required to gain knowledge and expertise to control pests and diseases that could become serious production threats in the future, and towards an understanding of the environmental effects on yield and quality and the potential impact of climate change.
We are supporting research projects at centres of expertise in the UK and in cocoa producing countries, helping to develop links between institutions and seeking to ensure a co-ordinated approach to cocoa research across international and inter-continental frontiers.
Copyright © CRA Ltd., 2014 | Design: Chris Turnbull