Cocoa quarantine centre opens in UK

A new STG1 million ($A2.


04 million) home for the world’s only cocoa quarantine centre has opened, with the facility’s head saying the work “has never been more important”.

The International Cocoa Quarantine Centre (ICQC) was opened at the University of Reading, where cocoa is kept for two years before being shipped to 20 countries around the world.

The centre’s work has been hailed as vital in ensuring cocoa remains free from disease and can be used in breeding programs to make new types of chocolate that have greater resistance.

“The work and research undertaken at the university has never been more important,” said Professor Paul Hadley, who leads the cocoa program.

“Demand for cocoa is going up and up, particularly in countries like China where the standard of living is increasing and people are getting a taste for some of these confectionery products.

“In South and Central America, the centre of cocoa origin, two major diseases, frosty pod and witches’ broom disease, have had a major impact on commercial production. If these diseases spread to other cocoa producing regions such as west Africa it would absolutely devastate the industry. Therefore, safe movement of cocoa via ICQC is of paramount importance.”

Loke Fong Han, senior economist at the International Cocoa Organisation, said the work of the quarantine centre was vital.

“Instead of transferring cocoa from country to country, we have this safe movement of materiel through the quarantine centre which is free from pest and disease,” he said.

“This is of huge value to the sector.”