VARTC collections of cocoa have been introduced and established in fields during the 80s’ and 90s’. Those collections include pure line clones of varieties of Forastero, Trinitario, Criollo and Amelonado, hybrids of Amelonado from Solomon and Malaysia, materials issue from Open Pollination (OP), and few local materials.
Those collections are located in two main plots :
- Collection plots
- Cocoa Clonal Seed garden (CCSG) where around 90 genotypes have been recorded and established
The characterisation of those collections (bean size, black pods tolerances, organoleptic characteristics) was done back in late 90’s. See report of Philip Aguillard/ Bastide in 1996 & 2000.
VARTC has been involved in a regional cocoa project since 2010 coordinated by SPC (Secretariat of the Pacific Community) and funded by ACIAR (Australian Centre for International Agricultureal Research). The role of VARTC in the project was an emphasis on the conservation of germplasm and strategies of supplying planting materials to the farmers.
In 2016 PHAMA funded the establishment of two solar dryers on IRCC station through the activities actioned by CIWG (Cocoa Industry Working group). The goal is to lead tests and measurements during the drying process of the beans: temperatures data (inside, outside, beans, stones…) and moisture in the beans are recorded.
SPC is a key partner for the VARTC Cocoa program. Consultants, expert in cocoa, come regularly at VARTC to share their recommendations with VARTC Cocoa division team. With support from TC PAM Cocoa recovery funds, VARTC started the reparation of the nursery structure and the rehabilitation of the Clonal Seed Garden.
DARD (Department of Agriculture and Rural Development) is very helpful in terms of distribution of planting materials and awareness.
ACTIV is also very special collaborator as this NGO works directly with farmers.
A workshop dedicated to the production of chocolate bars and funded by NGO (World Vision, ADRA, …) is regularly organised at VARTC training centre.