The Cocoa Cure Center (CCC),
brings scientists specializing in various agricultural disciplines together to help develop synergetic and creative practical solutions for the problems associated with growing cacao.
To Save Chocolate by producing solutions that will prevent the collapse of the cacao growing industry and lead to its prosperity.
The CCC had its origins in 2018 when Dr. Ellen R. Graber, a Senior Research Scientist in Israel’s Volcani Center, Agricultural Research Organization (ARO), learned of the disaster predicted for cacao farmers, cacao exporting countries, and chocolate lovers of present and future generations. After surveying the known and suspected production problems facing cacao farmers around the world, she recruited fellow Volcani researchers from relevant disciplines, and formed the CCC team, dedicated to “Saving Chocolate”.
This team has built a specialized research program focused on applicable solutions for cacao farmers. As new information arises, the team is constantly adding members with the expertise in needed fields.
In June 2018, a few of the scientists visited Ghana’s Cocoa Research Institute (CRIG) and the Ghana Cocoa Board, and formed the framework of a collaboration for creating, transferring and applying solutions. A generous start-up donation from a cacao-loving donor made it possible to establish the needed greenhouse infrastructure and to begin research into solutions to the Cacao Swollen Shoot Virus (CSSV). The CSSV is a dangerous virus that is threatening to destroy West African cacao forests, which are responsible for about 2/3 of global cacao production.
In 2019, a quarantine facility for cacao on the Volcani campus was certified for housing plant material imported from the International Cocoa Quarantine Center (ICQC) at Reading, England. Seeds have already been imported from the ICQC, and budwood from a number of varieties will be obtained in Spring 2020. In addition, locally-sourced cacao seedlings and trees were obtained in 2019; this collection serves for training and as rootstock. Starting in Spring 2020, the CCC will have use of a climate-controlled 750 m2 greenhouse facility and auxiliary quarantine units. Parts of this facility, established at the Ben Shemen Youth Village, will be open for professional, educational and public visits.