‘Develop pest resistant cocoa hybrids with high yields'

Tamil Nadu Agricultural University Vice Chancellor Dr N Kumar speaks during the five days international meeting of Asia-Pacific Cocoa Breeders Working Group organised at ICAR-Central Plantation Crops Research Institute (CPCRI), Kasaragod on Monday.

Dr N Kumar, vice-chancellor, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU), Coimbatore, stressed the need to develop cocoa hybrids with higher yields and resistance to pests and diseases.

He spoke at the five-day international meeting of Asia-Pacific Cocoa Breeders Working Group organised at ICAR-Central Plantation Crops Research Institute (CPCRI), Kasaragod on Monday.  

He suggested that an exchange of such hybrids between countries to multiply locally for distribution among the farmers. High-density planting of cocoa as a monocrop should be taken up on an experimental basis to increase productivity, he opined.

Dr Venkatesh N Hubballi, director, Cashewnut and Cocoa Development (DCCD), Kochi, said that Indian cocoa beans were the best in the world. He called for close links between R&D departments to fulfil the prime minister’s vision to enhance cashew and cocoa cultivation as poor man’s crops.

Dr Smilja Lambert, Cocoa Research Manager (Asia/Pacific), Mars Inc, said the group aimed to critically evaluate the strength and weakness of the cocoa sector in the Asia-pacific countries.

“We also aim to discuss and develop action plans to manage existing and emerging pest and disease of cocoa in the region, especially from a climate change perspective,” she added.

Campco Vice President S N Bhat highlighted various brands of chocolates and the products of cocoa. He also highlighted the role played by the Campco in the supply of seedlings and in raw cocoa beans collection.

Project Coordinator Dr Maheswarappa indicated the perspectives of area expansion and productivity improvement in cocoa needs as a collaborative effort for R&D agencies (including private companies). 

“The world demand for chocolate is increasing steadily with an annual growth rate of over 10%. The current demand for cocoa beans for Indian chocolate industry is 40,000 tons against the production of 18,000 tons. There is huge potential for increasing the domestic cocoa area and production.  This will result in import substitution,” said participants.

CPCRI, Kasargod, Acting Director Dr Anitha Karun, and others were present.

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