News Releases

Cocoa Research Centre to host public cocoa research & innovation workshop

For Release Upon Receipt - November 5, 2015

St. Augustine

If you want to hitch your business wagon to the cocoa bean, then The University of the West Indies (UWI) St. Augustine Campus’ Cocoa Research Centre (CRC) has you covered.

In its public workshop, the CRC will give interested persons and industry stakeholders insight on innovations in the industry that seek to improve production and quality, and strategies for product diversification and niche marketing that can position this industry into another diversification option for T&T.

The research and innovation workshop, titled “From lab, to farm, to product” will take place at the University Inn and Conference Centre on Circular Rd, St. Augustine on November 17.

The workshop, mounted by the CRC in collaboration with the Dutch Embassy and with support from Atlantic LNG, will 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. CRC Director, Professor Pathmanathan Umaharan is an expert in plant genetic resources management, genetic analysis and crop improvement.


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).

Noting that innovation will drive the building of the IFCIC at the University’s Field Station in Mt. Hope, he added that it will not only serve as a showpiece 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.

·         Innovations in 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 creative potential will be discussed.

·         Branding, Traceability and Niche Marketing: A discussion of the ground-breaking work of the Cocoa Research Centre and its partners. The CRC 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