On behalf of all the donors that have generously supported the preparation of this important document, it is a pleasure to write this brief preface. The publication of this Global Strategy is the culmination of a major international effort involving many experts, many revisions and intense discussions over a long period of time amongst members of the cocoa research community who have often had strongly held views on the best way forward. We believe that though it has been time consuming this international debate has been fruitful and will have greatly strengthened the Global Strategy that is presented here.
Some 95% of global cocoa production comes from small cocoa growers who might have an average of some three hectares allocated to the crop with perhaps an annual yield of some 330 kg per hectare leading to their producing about one tonne of dried beans per annum. The cultivation systems described later in this Global Strategy cannot be considered as
sustainable and they barely, if at all, deliver a living wage to such a cocoa farming family. As a minimum, current cocoa farm productivity needs to be trebled. Cleary the availability of a broad range of genetic resources and breeding from them to provide improved planting material will have a major role in enhancing the sustainability of cocoa cultivation for the myriad of small growers who presently face a somewhat uncertain future.
In view of the substantial international importance of the trade in cocoa and the several millions of very small farmers in the tropics involved in its cultivation, some observers have expressed surprise that the crop was not designated as a priority crop in the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA). In the absence of such an international legal and financial framework to support its conservation and use, cocoa is a vulnerable crop vis a vis its long-term and sustainable funding. However, thanks to the strong commitment and efforts of CATIE and CRU/UWI to ensure global access to these resources by designating their collections under the ITPGRFA Article 15, these valuable genetic resources can be accessed for utilization and conservation in research, breeding and training and the benefits arising out of their use shared in a fair and equitable way. This Global Strategy for the Conservation and Use of Cacao Genetic Resources has been developed since we believe that this will greatly enhance the impact of this work and the opportunities to get international support for the development of better cocoa planting material.
We gratefully acknowledge the contribution of the experts who so freely gave of their time and their opinions, as well as the vision of the sponsors that has enabled the completion of this important piece of work. The supporters of this strategy development process and the wider cocoa industry look forward to working with national authorities and international donors to effectively deliver the vision laid out in this Global Strategy.
Tony Lass, Chairman
Cocoa Research Association Ltd., UK (CRA Ltd.)