Since the 1990s, IRAD has received and established more than 250 clones from the International Cocoa Quarantine Centre at Reading. Germplasm received is initially maintained in the genebanks at the Nkoemvone and Kumba/Barombi-Kang Research Stations, where it is evaluated for a range of traits including resistance to pests and diseases, yield, bean quality attributes (flavour) and drought tolerance.
A number of clones received have subsequently been used in the IRAD breeding programme. Furthermore, selected clones are included in seed gardens where hybrid seed are produced to distribute to farmers. About 10-15 clones introduced from the International Cocoa Quarantine Centre are frequently used as progenitors in seed gardens.
In 2020, a major programme was undertaken to transfer a considerable quantity of germplasm from ICQC,R to IRAD. This additional germplasm will greatly enhance IRAD’s capacity to carry out breeding on cocoa, especially to create new crosses and evaluate their potential regarding the traits listed above.
Cocoa growing in Cameroon
Photo: Chris Turnbull