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International Cocoa Quarantine Centre, Reading

The exchange of germplasm is important for cocoa breeding and many related activities. The International Cocoa Quarantine Centre operates to ensure that this vital need can be satisfied without transferring pests and diseases from one cocoa growing region to another.

The University of Reading took over responsibility for cocoa quarantine from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in 1985 and in 1987, CRA Ltd. (originally BCCCA) provided funding to construct, maintain and staff a purpose built facility at the Shinfield Field Unit 4.8 km from the main University campus. In 2001 Masterfoods (now Mars, Incorporated) financed an extension to the facility and co-funded operational costs until March 2006 when the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Opens in New Window took over the role of cofinancier. Additional support was provided by the Common Fund for Commodities (CFC), between 1998 and 2009, as part of the CFC/ICCO/IPGRI cocoa germplasm projects to supply material for the international clone and hybrid trials. In 2008, the Dutch Government (LNV), alongside CRA Ltd., provided a grant to install energy-saving thermal screens in the greenhouses. In late 2014, the University of Reading relocated the facility to a new site as part of the redevelopment of the Shinfield Field Unit.

Since 1985 many clones have passed through the facility and many shipments made. Most of these have been received from the International Genebanks in Trinidad (CRC) Opens in New Window and Costa Rica (CATIE) Opens in New Window, but material has also been received from the wild and National collections. The current quarantine procedure involves a two year visual observation period to check for latent viral infections. Research is underway to improve and accelerate the quarantine process using new technologies.