More than 300 national and international representatives from the cacao industry visited Costa Rica last week for the 15th International Cacao Research Conference, organized by the Tropical Agronomy Research Center (CATIE) and the Cocoa Producers’ Alliance (COPAL).
The conference aimed to increase production of cacao in the region to meet the increasing worldwide demand for this product, according to CATIE spokeswoman Alexandra Cortés.
Although cacao originated in Latin America, its production lags in the region because of fungal diseases that have caused destruction and serious losses. The Ivory Coast is at the lead of cacao production worldwide, followed by other West African countries, according to a CATIE statement.
However, research organizations are working to combat these diseases and help Mesoamerican countries reactivate their production, CATIE general director Pedro Ferreira said during the conference’s opening ceremony, Oct. 9.
According to Sona Ebai, COPAL secretary general, families that produce cacao must be helped to produce a better quality product in phases.
“This way, producers can plant other products on their farms, diversifying their income and production,” he said.
Representatives from 30 countries attended the conference.