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Partners in conservation part II

Cocoa is a challenging crop to conserve, as it cannot be stored in traditional seed collections or through cryopreservation. It must therefore be maintained as a field collection, which is expensive and can be subject to the vagaries of the environment. The ICGT is an important collection containing many rare cocoa specimens, and should be duplicated to make the material less vulnerable to these natural disasters as well as malicious damage. Participatory management of the gene bank by several stakeholders, is seen as a novel approach to address these challenges, as well as contribute to sustainable management of the cocoa germplasm in the long term. This participatory model if successful, can serve as a national model to manage and conserve Biodiversity in the future.

Following on the heels of a successful collaboration with the community of Brasso Seco, The Cocoa Research Centre approached the Green Fund Project of the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, to assist in a larger programme to conserve all the cocoa plant material housed in the ICGT collection.  This programme will seek to use the “partners in conservation” similar to the Brasso Seco community initiative, in a participatory management scheme of the genebank. To date, 50 cocoa famers/organizations from around the island of Trinidad and Tobago have already been identified as potential partners. 

In the scheme, The UWI will do the following:

  1. Provide planting material on a phased basis to the partner
  2. Provide a manual of best practices
  3. Map the planting site
  4. Label the plants to preserve the identity
  5. Maintain a centralized database of the mapped locations of varieties.

In turn, the partner will commit to do the following:

  1. Maintain the material according to the best practices manual
  2. Allow research staff of the Centre access to the material as needed

In return for the partner’s co-operation, the partner is free to harvest the cocoa for their own use.

This project is still pending, as the Centre continues to seek assistance in funding the initiative.

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