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.

  • 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

US Firms Concerned About China's New Cyber Regulations

New rules would require technology companies doing business in financial sector to hand over their source code, adopt Chinese encryption algorithms More

WHO Focus on Ebola Shifts to Ending Outbreak

Focus to be less on building facilities and more on efforts to find infected people, manage their cases, engage with communities and ensure proper burials More

US Scientist Who Conceived of Groundbreaking Laser Technology Dies

Charles Townes, Nobel laureate, laser co-creator paved way for other scientific discoveries: CDs, eye surgery, metal cutters to name a few technologies that rely on lasers 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.
Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Webi
X
January 29, 2015 9:58 AM
Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video As Ground Shifts, Obama Reviews Middle East Strategy

The death of Saudi Arabia’s king, the collapse of a U.S.-friendly government in Yemen and a problematic relationship with Israel’s leadership are presenting a new set of complications for the Obama administration and its Middle East policy. Not only is the U.S. leader dealing with adversaries in Iran, the Islamic State and al-Qaida, but he is now juggling trouble with traditional allies, as White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid