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

You May Like

Multimedia Brussels Schools, Metro Reopen Under Heavy Guard

City remains under the highest threat alert level due to what authorities have described as a 'serious and imminent' threat of attack

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

Americans Think About Strange Stuff at Thanksgiving

Millions of Americans are celebrating Thanksgiving, but they’re not necessarily thinking about turkey and stuffing

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

By the Numbers

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs