Press Release

Cocoa Research and Innovations - From Lab to Farm to Product – Cocoa Research Centre to host public cocoa research and innovation workshop

For Immediate Release

ST. AUGUSTINE, Trinidad and Tobago. November 6, 2015 – If you’ve ever wanted an in-depth look at the innovations and best practices in support of nurturing a vibrant, branded and value added ultra-niche cocoa industry, The University of the West Indies (UWI) St. Augustine Campus’ Cocoa Research Centre (CRC) has you covered. In a public workshop carded for November 17, the CRC will educate interested persons and industry stakeholders on the innovations in the industry that seek improve production, quality, product diversification and niche marketing towards developing this industry into a diversification option for our T&T economy. The research and innovation workshop, titled “Cocoa Research and Innovations: From lab, to farm, to product” will take place at the University Inn and Conference Centre on St. Augustine Circular Rd, St. Augustine.

The workshop, mounted by the CRC in collaboration with the Dutch Embassy and support from Atlantic LNG, will be hosted to showcase the outputs of the CRC’s recently concluded project Leveraging the International Cocoa Genebank to Improve Competitiveness of the Cocoa Sector in the Caribbean, Using Modern Genomics. That project aimed to develop innovations along the value chain in the cocoa industry and was undertaken with the support of The UWI Research, Development and Impact (RDI) Fund with outreach funding from the EU/ACP that will support the development of an International Fine Cocoa Innovation Centre (IFCIC).

The CRC’s Director, Professor Pathmanathan Umaharan is an expert in plant genetic resources management, genetic analysis and crop improvement. At CRC, he is responsible for the centre’s policy, strategic direction and governance, in addition to curation of the genebank and outreach. Noting that innovation will drive the building of the IFCIC at the University’s Field Station in Mount Hope, he added that it will not only serve as a show piece and model for the industry but also support apprenticeship training, product development and incubator services and business development in a focused manner. “It will serve as a nexus in which the University, the government and the private sector can collaborate and grow the industry. It will also become an international hub providing knowledge services and training for the International Community,” he said.

The workshop will run as a series of mini-workshops, reinforced by technology booths, information material and interaction with researchers. The CRC will share best practices and innovations developed through the project with local stakeholders along the entire value chain, from cocoa farmers and processors to chocolatiers, entrepreneurs and policy makers. The six mini-workshops are as follows:
· Improving Productivity: To discuss how to select varieties, design a cocoa orchard, understand your environment, manage tree architecture, ensure better pollination, shade, fertilizer and water management to maximize yield from the trees. It will also take a look at innovations that are happening in the area of genetics that will greatly improve productivity in the future and the role of the Cocoa Research Centre.
· Disease Management: To illustrate best practices to avoid infection by disease organisms, and cultural practices such as sanitation pruning to reduce the disease pressure in the field. It will also explore innovations in disease management such as breeding of varieties with tolerance to the disease.
· Quality Matters: To outline and explore what affects quality and how to ensure that the potential of beans can be maintained through the harvesting, processing and product development processes. It will also explore innovations that are taking place which can further improve quality and highlight the importance of certification to the consumers.
· Product Development and Diversification: In this workshop, the work that CRC and other stakeholders will be highlighted. A joint effort of the government, University and Private Sector in developing this sector will be stressed and innovative ways of unravelling the creative potential of the peoples of Trinidad and Tobago will be discussed.
· Branding, Traceability and Niche Marketing: A discussion of the ground-breaking work of the Cocoa Research Centre along with its partners have initiated some work in supporting branding and building the reputation of geographical indications, it is also working on innovations in branding by genetics, by fermentation modification to create ultra-niche products; as well as building traceability systems to support brand marketing.

There is no cost to attend the workshop but space is limited. Interested persons are asked to register on or before November 10, 2015. For further details, please contact call 662 2002 ext 82178 or email lambert.motilal@sta.uwi.edu.

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About The UWI
Since its inception in 1948, The University of the West Indies (UWI) has evolved from a fledgling college in Jamaica with 33 students to a full-fledged, regional University with well over 40,000 students. Today, UWI is the largest, most longstanding higher education provider in the Commonwealth Caribbean, with four campuses in Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Open Campus. The UWI has faculty and students from more than 40 countries and collaborative links with 160 universities globally; it offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Food & Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science and Technology and Social Sciences. UWI’s seven priority focal areas are linked closely to the priorities identified by CARICOM and take into account such over-arching areas of concern to the region as environmental issues, health and wellness, gender equity and the critical importance of innovation. Website: www.uwi.edu

Cocoa Research Centre (CRC) of The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, custodians of the International Cocoa Genebank, Trinidad will host a workshop entitled: “Cocoa Research and Innovations Workshop: From Lab to Farm to Product, to be held on Tuesday November 17th, 2015 from 10:30am - 4:00pm at The University Inn and Conference Centre, St. Augustine Circular Road, St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago. The workshop is being hosted to showcase the outputs of CRC’s recently concluded project entitled “Leveraging the International Cocoa Genebank to Improve Competitiveness of the Cocoa Sector in the Caribbean, Using Modern Genomics.” With the support of The UWI-Research, Development and Impact Fund (RDI) this project aimed to develop innovations along the value chain in the cocoa industry. 

The workshop format will include mini-workshops, reinforced by technology booths, information material and interaction with researchers. CRC aims to share best practices and innovations developed through the project and encourage sharing of other salient information among local stakeholders along the entire value chain from cocoa farmers and processors to chocolatiers, entrepreneurs and policy makers.

For more information on Cocoa Research and Innovations - From Lab to Farm to Product, please contact Mr. Lambert Motilal at 662-8788 or via email at lambert@cocoacentre.com or write to us on our Facebook page http://facebook.com/cocoacentre