Cocoa Pollination for Optimised Production
(Optimising cocoa pollination for increased yield and income generation)
Funded by the EU and Implemented by the ACP group of states
Donor: EU ACP S&T II Programme
Value: Approximately €500,000
Partners: University of Trinidad and Tobago, NRI, Cocoa Industry Board (Jamaica)
Full project website
The CocoaPOP project ran from 2012 to 2016 but continues to produce outputs and impact.
Objective of the project: To conduct research into cocoa pollination that will improve yields of cocoa through the optimisation of fruit setting and seed production throughout the year.
CocoaPOP aimed to make cocoa production more environmentally sustainable and more resilient to the impacts of extreme climatic events and climate variability. The project carried out field trials to evaluate the relationship between cocoa yield and natural pollination. Improved yield through better pollination will ultimately mean that water and energy resources can be conserved by reducing the pressure on additional plantation needs. Higher yields from existing plantations reduces the need to expand plantations by converting natural forest.
Introducing (IP)-EPIC, an exciting new project on sustainable cocoa ecosystems!
Production of cocoa depends on insect pollinators transferring pollen between flowers. Most information suggests this is primarily Ceratopogonidae midges (especially Forcipomyia). But which species are most effective? Which other insects play a role? What effects their abundance and activity? How can we increase them? And can manual pollination effectively and sustainably offer an alternative route to cocoa production?
This new project is based in the Ashanti region of Ghana and will address these issues between 2022 and 2026.
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(IP)-EPIC aims to answer several key questions:
1. Is manual pollination of cocoa sustainable in the long-term? (Can the tree support the enhanced yield?)
2. What insect species are visiting cocoa, and which carry pollen? What are the best pollinators?
3. What role does (a) proximity to forest and (b) shade versus full sun in plantations play in influencing where pollinators are found?
4. Does switching to a lower toxicity pest management strategy positively affect pollination?
5. What methods can work to boost pollination effectively?