News / Africa

Cocoa Foundation Selects Researchers for US Study

William Eagle
Seven research scientists, from Africa, Asia and Latin America, will come to the United States next year to study cocoa production. They were chosen by the Washington-based World Cocoa Foundation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture for two- to three-month fellowships.

Cocoa in Africa

x
  • A worker stands among sacks of cocoa beans as they are loaded for shipment at the port in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, May 10, 2011.
  • Cocoa swollen shoot virus (World Cocoa Foundation)
  • Farmers break cocoa pods in Ghana's eastern cocoa town of Akim Akooko September 6, 2012.
  • Pod of cocoa plant with black pod infection (left) next to a normal pod (right) (World Cocoa Foundation)
  • Cocoa plant with helopeltis damage (World Cocoa Foundation)
  • Farmer Issiaka Ouedraogo arranges cocoa beans, laid out to dry on reed mats, on a cocoa farm outside the village of Fangolo, near Duekoue Ivory Coast, May 31, 2011.

Cocoa in Africa

The effort is part of the Global Cocoa Initiative of the WCF and U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Norman E. Borlaug International Agricultural Science and Technology Fellowship program. 
 
The scientists are from Costa Rica, Ghana, Vietnam, the Philippines and three from Cote d’Ivoire, the world’s largest producer of cocoa beans. 
 
While in the United States, they’ll work with a mentor at research labs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Florida or Maryland, or with universities.  In the past, they have included the state universities of Wisconsin, Florida, Pennsylvania and Tennessee, as well as Rutgers University in New Jersey.
 
Virginia Sopyla, a program manager with the World Cocoa Foundation earlier in Washington, said  "[Fellows] will work with a mentor on developing technical research skills, and they will also complete a tour the U.S. side of the cocoa supply chain. So, they can learn about how cocoa is brought into the U.S., how it’s stored and warehoused, processed and manufactured into chocolate products."
 
"Then six months to one year after the completion of the fellowship, the fellow’s mentor has the opportunity to visit him or her at the home [research] institution in the producing country for a follow-up visit of up to one to two weeks."
 
During their stay in the United States, the fellows will conduct research on issues affecting the growth and production of cocoa, including crop diseases and insect pests.
 
The African researcgers are expected to study cocoa swollen shoot virus, a disease common to West Africa.  It’s transmitted by the mealybug and can kill cocoa trees within three years.
 
They are also expected to study black pod rot, a fungus found in much of the world’s cocoa producing regions.
 
Fellows from Asia will look at Helopeltis, or mirids, an insect pest affecting cocoa pods and young shoots in Vietnam. They’ll also look at the management and the intercropping of cocoa and coconut in the Philippines.
 
Sopyla said a number of past fellows have continued their work with US mentors long after the end of their fellowships.
 
"We had a fellow from Nigeria who was studying a nematode pest," she explained. "These are very small worms that feed on the roots of the cocoa seedling roots.  With his mentor he was able to identify the species of nematode that was affecting their plants and then was able to conduct some studies on using poultry manure [in compost] to control the [hatching of nematode eggs]. He conducted those studies here in the lab in the U.S. and then when he returned to Nigeria he continued this work and is now able to share that learning with farmers."
 
World Cocoa Foundation officials add that getting the word out to farmers is an important part of the organization’s work.
 
An integral part of the effort is using new and affordable technology.
 
One program, called Cocoa Link, allows farmers to share ideas and ask questions using cell phone text messaging. 
 
Another, called Digital Green, teaches farmers to film or videotape training sessions, which can then be shared with fellow farmers.  
 
Bill Guyton, the president of the WCF, said "the farmers] show the videos later on these very small devices that can be used at night and on the walls of homes to show and reinforce some of what they’ve learned during farmer training."
 
"The technology was adapted first in India and is being pilot tested through the WCF Cocoa Livelihoods Program [a collaborative effort with the Bill &Melinda Gates Foundation targeting 200,000 households in Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, It’s been used on other crops before but this is the first time we’ve tried using this technology in the cocoa sector…so we’re very excited about what it’s going to deliver."
 
The World Cocoa Foundation represents over 100 chocolate companies and others in the supply chain working to support sustainable cocoa production.  Guyton says the WCF’s work in farmer outreach is showing promising results and is an important part of the effort to improve farm productivity – and incomes.

Listen to report on cocoa fellowships
Listen to report on cocoa fellowshipsi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X

You May Like

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, No voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve and do not want to take a risk by endorsing independence More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid