The Mesoamerican region has been fundamental in the domestication and diversification of Theobroma cacao, constituting a prominent origin of fine cocoa produced from Criollo and/or Trinitario varieties. Yet, fine cocoa remains insignificant in the cocoa world market, whereas its production is crucial in the economy and culture of multiple indigenous, afro-Caribbean and mestizo communities, living mostly in isolated rural regions in Central America. Noteworthy, fine cocoa is the key ingredient in the making of bean-to-bar chocolates, which are the products of artisan small businesses around the world.
This project proposes to determine key territorial factors to differentiating quality of origin cocoa towards the development of Geographical Indications. The project will facilitate the collective management of innovation, increasing added value, the protection of biocultural heritage and the promotion of territories traditionally bound to cocoa production. Integral strategies will be developed for the identification of extrinsic and intrinsic quality of cocoa beans. The studies will include historic-cultural aspects, typologies of production systems, agronomical and postharvest practices, as well as quality profile analysis. Furthermore, the project will establish actions towards the generation of key organizational capacities for the implementation and sustainability of GIs.
The technological solution
It is proposed the dynamization of territories and the promotion of cocoa beans originated in regions linked to quality and prestige, with historical recognition, through the articulation of multidisciplinary studies directed at protecting the biocultural heritage and the promotion of innovation. The project corresponds with a regional effort, at interorganizational and interinstitutional levels, in 16 territories from Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. It is projected an impact in at least 56 organizations, including about 8000 farmers. The development of techniques and determination of tangible aspects will be followed by actions towards the development of organizational capacities, which are imperative for the implementation and sustainability of GIs. Hence, efforts will aim at developing capacities for establishing the Control Boards (or Regulatory Council) of the intended protecting regions and to promote a Mesoamerican Control-Board network for the collaborative promotion of GIs, the co-creation, innovation management, and experience exchange.
A territorial valorization strategy is being implemented aiming at developing studies as well as to promote the development of capacities for implementing Geographical Indications towards the protection of differentiated fine cocoa beans of Mesoamerican provenance. The studies will include analysis for determining the genomic diversity of cocoa plantations in the proposed territories. Next-generation sequencing will be applied for the identification of microbiological differentiating factors with relevance to quality. Chemometric analysis will be developed by implementing a multivariate approach for the generation of Geographical discriminating models using algorithms based on Machine Learning principles. The results will facilitate the technical analysis as the models will enable methods for validation, traceability, and authentication. Actions are established towards the development of organizational capacities, which are imperative for the implementation and sustainability of GIs.
This project will promote the participation of 8,158 farmers in Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama, focusing efforts on farming organizations and family agricultural systems dedicated to the production fine cocoa beans. In Honduras it is projected an impact on 18 organizations, including 2,900 farmers in regions such as: Atlantida, Northern and western, Yojoa, Eastern and Mosquitia regions. In Nicaragua it is projected a direct impact on 17 organizations, including 1,668 farmers from Matagalpa, New Guinea, San Juan River, and the Autonomous region of Northern Caribbean. In Costa Rica it is projected an impact on 20 organizations including 2,138 farmers from Upala, Guatuso, Talamanca, Caribbean and Brunca. In Panama this project will coordinate efforts with a leading cooperative from Bocas del Toro Region, including 1,452 farmers.
The developed GIs will ultimately become intellectual property considered to be of public domain, which will be of access to individual farmers in each territory, through the application to the corresponding GI regulatory council. This project will also benefit the 4 participant organizations, by generating capacities for the support of the organizations associated to this project, towards the implementation and sustainability of the developed GIs. Finally, the development of a Mesoamerican platform of Regulatory Councils, for promoting a collaborative promotion and implementation of GIs, will constitute a model of reference for similar efforts towards regional integration.
Sustainable Development Goals
- Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica (UNA) - Costa Rica
- COCABO - Panamá
- Instituto Nicaragüense de Tecnología Agropecuaria (INTA) - Nicaragua
- Fundación Hondureña de Investigación Agrícola (FHIA) - Honduras
- Fundación Juana de Vega (FJDV) - España