Cocoa plants are unusually susceptible to disease. With global demand for chocolate rising – including growing markets in China and India – there’s been concern about whether production can keep pace, especially with new and emerging threats.
In a quiet corner of the British countryside, a research center focuses on threats to cocoa production. Funding is providing by various partners, including the USDA. The International Cocoa Quarantine Centre in Reading serves as a sort of clearinghouse for improved cocoa plants. Before a variety from one country can be planted in another, it makes a stop here.
Ari Shapiro (@arishapiro) reports for NPR The Salt:
Now imagine that a farm in Ghana produces a super-plant, with pods that contain twice as many beans as a normal cocoa tree. Every chocolate producer in the world would want a cutting. But, if those cuttings contained a fungus or pest currently found only in Ghana, the entire chocolate industry could come crashing down.
That’s where the International Quarantine Centre in rural England comes in.
International research center in Trinidad tackles global cocoa shortage