Saving Chocolate: England's Cocoa Quarantine

January 18, 2018 12:24 PM

At the beginning of the month, chocolate lovers were hit with the news the world could run out of the sweet treat by 2050 if climate change makes it too hot and dry for cacao plants to grow and thrive.

In the article that originated from Business Insider, mentioned scientists from the University of California, UC Berkley and candy company Mars to save the plant before all is lost.

The global supply of cocoa can’t keep up with the current demand, and each year, 30 percent of the crop is lost to pests and diseases.

Scientists in the United Kingdom are also working to guard the world’s chocolate supply by supplying researchers and breeders worldwide with disease-free cuttings from 400 varieties at the International Cocoa Quarantine Centre (ICQC) in Reading, England.

The greenhouse is kept at 70 percent humidity and higher temperatures so it feels like the Amazon. The prime reason the location was picked was because of its distance from other cocoa plants.

“If cocoa varieties are moved from one country to another, then it’s absolutely vital that it undergoes intermediate quarantine,” said Dr. Andrew Daymond, plant physiologist at the University of Reading. “We don’t grow cocoa [in the UK] and there’s no danger of endemic pest and diseases of cocoa entering the facility.

During the British winters, it’s difficult to keep the trees healthy because of low light, and they start to die at 66 degrees Fahrenheit.

Once the trees spend two years in quarantine, safe cocoa seeds are shipped to 20 countries.

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Spell Check

Andrew Daymond
Reading, AL
1/18/2018 03:31 PM

  Correction: “treating more than 400 trees carrying viruses” The Centre receives varieties from genebanks such as the International Cocoa Genebank in Trinidad and CATIE in Costa Rica. These are checked for pests and diseases over a two year period and any plants found to be infected are eliminated during the quarantine process. Cuttings from the clean plants that have completed quarantine are sent to research institutes and growers worldwide for development of new varieties for farmers. Andrew Daymond, University of Reading, UK


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