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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact 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.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs