Cacao, enhanced value chains, benefits for farmers & intellectual property

http://edition.cnn.com/video/?/video/international/2009/04/20/wr.april.20.09.bk.b.cnn

This CNN World Report looks at the cacao market in West Africa and Trinidad.  An informative piece with a positive look into the future for these small holder farmers. 

Photo by Victoria Henson-Apollonio

Photo by Victoria Henson-Apollonio

These examples further the discussion of the growing trend of consumers wishing to know more about from where and how the food they purchase has made its way to the supermarket shelves.  See also the recent NYTimes.com article about the “find the farmer” scheme that is running in parts of the US.   This could have huge IP implications in terms of branding and certification.

CAS-IP has been involved in a project run by Bioversity International and funded by the World Bank that uses modern genomics methods to enhance the cocoa value chain by identifying  “rare and potentially valuable high-quality [cacao] beans.. cacao growers could charge more for special beans, and chocolate lovers could enjoy better experiences.”

See the Bioversity International  press release for more info.

“The core of the project is to develop standardized, reliable methods to identify the valuable beans… Jan Engels, the project leader, is a senior scientist at Bioversity International with long experience of cacao diversity. “I am very pleased with the Bank’s decision,” he said. “This will encourage farmers to conserve cacao diversity for the best possible reason: because it earns them more money.”

A win, win then?

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One response to “Cacao, enhanced value chains, benefits for farmers & intellectual property

  1. What is happening in Trinidad is happening in many places where cacao and coffee are grown. Coffee connoisseurs are quite concerned with the origin of their beans and we now find that all the high end chocolate identifies the source of its cacao. But this is only part of the equation; these farmers are getting a much higher price for their organic cacao, and ag researchers and organizations like GTZ have been working with cacao farmers on improving quality. The consistency of cacao is critical for manufacturers who wish to promote a high quality image and product, and fermentation is a key step in the process. In Ecuador, for example, GTZ has been working with the supply chain to move all fermentation away from the farmer to the cooperatives, and this has had a major impact on both quality and the value of exports.

    Another factor is the Fair Trade element; conscious consumers like to know the origin of their products, and this trend is far more evident in Europe (where Fair Trade products are featured in supermarkets) than it is in the USA (where for the most part these products are only found in stores like Whole Foods). So consumer preference is a key factor, and Oxfam and other NGOs have played a major role in promoting this higher awareness in Europe.

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