Successful marketing of Latin-American Fine Aroma National cocoa is hampered by high cadmium (Cd) content in the beans. For this, we will formulate an innovative, highly efficient and climatically intelligent bioprocess to reduce the solubility of Cd in the rhizosphere of cocoa plants with a protocol suitable for transfer to cocoa farms. The bioprocess will involve: (a) isolation of a soil fungi consortia native to cocoa plantations that have the ability to decrease the coeficient of bioaccumulation aerial and root (CBr,a); (b) the assessment of the effectiveness of the bioprocess in bioreactors and the scale up to Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) 6 and 7 in cocoa family farms (FF). Activities will be implemented via technical cooperation with scientists, FF, as well as private and governmental sectors in Eucador, Argentina, Spain and Venezuela. Transfer of knowledge will be carried out wia publications and trainings in order to reach an estimated 3.130 direct beneficiaries and 3.000 indirect beneficiaries related to cooa marketing chain.
The technological solution
The solution is a bioprocess generated by a consortium of soil fungi combined to reduce the level of cadmiun (Cd) present in the cocoa beans. On the one hand, the saprobic fungi (HS) that reduce the solubility of Cd, and on the other arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (HA) that decrease Cd absorption. The HS and HA selected will be species native to the local cocoa plantations, so avoiding the risk of introducing microorganisms foreingn to the soil ecosystem. Furthermore, by increasing plant growth and, consequently, the quantity of organic matter in the soil, HS and HA contribute to the improvement of soil aggregation and enhance soil water retention capacity and atmospheric carbon capture, so providing and intelligent response to the effects of climate change.
1) Knowledge of innovation and scaling acquired by the network of entrepreneurs/producers and students (895), and generation of didactic material (65) broadcast online via webinars, workshops, seminars, classes, and graphics.
2) Obtaining of HA and HS isolated from Cd-containing soils in cocoa farms, and bioprocess testing via the construction and commissioning of 8 bioreactors (control treatments) yielding CBr,a values lower than 1.
3) Establishment of calibration and scaling protocols, describing in detail the quantities, location type, qualitative and quantitative requirements of each input, that will empower the civil associations of cocoa producers founded in Ecuador and Venezuela.
4) Generation of different products aimed at the dissemination, communication, and transfer of the entire set of learning acquired during this project.
There will be 3.130 direct beneficiaries of the project, including: 1) 2.880 people living in 720 2ha-average family cocoa farms in Ecuador; 2) 100 people living in 25 0.4 to 1 ha cocoa family farms on the Paria Peninsula in Venezuela (assuming each family farm comprises 4 members); 3) 150 pre- and post-graduate thesis students, field professionals, and entrepreneurs trained in modern field methodologies. There will also be 3.000 indirect beneficiaries comprising all involved in socio-economic activities relating to cocoa who are not producers themselves. With respect to national and regional forecasts, we anticipate that via good practice in knowledge management, and with the participation of the Decentralized Autonomous Government (GAD) of Manabi and the Fortaleza del Valle Corporation (FdV) in Ecuador, and the Turba Deltana Company (ETD) in Venezuela, this project will benefit up to 5% of the entire sector active in the cocoa value chain in each country, which equals 46.000 people at the national level and 150.000 at the regional level.
Sustainable Development Goals
- Universidad Técnica de Manabí (UTM) - Ecuador
- Universidad Tecnológica Nacional (UTN) - Argentina
- Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC) - España
- Instituto de biodiversidad y Biología Experimental y Aplicada (IBBEA) - Argentina
- Corporación Fortaleza del Valle (FdV) - Ecuador
- Empresa Turba Deltana (ETD) - Venezuela
- Gobierno Autónomo Descentralizado de Ecuador (GAD) - Ecuador