Securing the world's supply of chocolate
Release Date 10 October 2012
As the country celebrates National Chocolate Week a UK academic is leading the fight to combat the threat posed to cocoa by pests, diseases and climate change.
Professor Paul Hadley, from the University of Reading, is chairing the 17th International Cocoa Research Conference being held in Cameroon next week. This will be the first time a UK academic will hold this prestigious position. The event, held once every three years, will be attended by over 300 delegates from cocoa producing countries and the confectionary industry across the globe.
Cocoa production faces significant problems from increasing global temperatures and more varied rainfall. Using state-of-the-art greenhouses that simulate current and predicted climate conditions in cocoa growing regions, Reading researchers aim to help to develop new cocoa varieties better suited to likely future climates.
Before departing for Cameroon Professor Hadley, from the University of Reading's School of Agriculture, Policy and Development, commented: "The biggest threat to cocoa comes from pests and diseases which already destroy about a third of potential cocoa production. There is also now a broad agreement that future climate change as a result of increased greenhouse gases and deforestation is likely to lead to challenging climatic conditions for almost all crops. Particular challenges for tropical crops are likely to include less evenly distributed rainfall patterns and higher maximum temperatures.
Cocoa is one of the most important sources of income for many countries in the humid tropics. Together, Ghana and The Ivory Coast produce nearly 70% of the world's supply. For Ghana, where cocoa is grown by smallholder farmers, cocoa accounts for over 40% of total export revenues and two million people are involved either directly or indirectly in its production.
"This year's Conference is extremely important as it will set the agenda for cocoa research around the world for the next three years," continued Professor Hadley. "It's imperative that we continue to examine ways of achieving sustainable cocoa production so that we can safeguard the future of chocolate, a food which so many of us enjoy and which in turn provides an important source of income for farmers in many countries."
The University is also home to the International Cocoa Quarantine Centre (ICQC), which handles all international movement of cocoa breeding material and is the only facility of its kind in the world. ICQC is playing a pivotal role in stopping the spread of pests and disease on cocoa, whilst ensuring that research centres worldwide have access to new and interesting types of cocoa.
The International Cocoa Research Conference is being held in Yaounde, Cameroon, between 15-Oct-2012 to 20-Oct-2012.
For more information contact James Barr at the University of Reading press office on 0118 378 7115 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to editors:
Paul Hadley is Professor of Horticultural Crop Physiology and Director of the Centre for Horticulture and Landscape at the University of Reading. He first came to the University of Reading in 1977 as an Overseas Development Administration Research Fellow and was appointed as lecturer in horticulture in 1981.
His research has focused on the crop physiology of temperate and tropical crops and he has worked on cocoa for over 25 years. His interests on cocoa include the effects of environment on the growth and productivity of cocoa and conserving the genetic resources of cocoa.
The University of Reading is ranked among the top 1% of the world's universities, according to the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2012, and is one of the UK's top research-intensive universities.