The International Cocoa Quarantine Centre at the University of Reading has been doing its business of providing disease-free cacao germplasm very quietly and unobtrusively, though no less effectively for that, since it took over from Kew in 1985. Funny, therefore, to see it splashed all over the headlines at the turn of the year. For example, the BBC trumpeted: “Facility opens to safeguard the future of chocolate.” What happened, of course, is that the ICQC just moved into a new, £1 million home at the university:
It consolidates the collection of 400 varieties into a single, improved greenhouse and should make the quarantine process faster, cheaper and greener.
Interestingly, I can find nothing on where the money came from, not even in The Economist, which you would have thought would have looked into it. In any case, great that funds were found to invest in such an important facility in support of cacao research and development. Some think that it would have made better financial sense to have it in a non-cacao producing country a bit closer to where the action is, but there are arguments on both sides.
Anyway, since we’re talking Theobroma, let me take the opportunity of pointing you to the brand new Instagram account of the Cocoa Research Centre at the University of the West Indies in Trinidad, which is the source of much of the material at Reading. They’re also on Twitter.