Cocoa trees come in several varieties in Samoa, each of which has different physical and biological aspects that determine cocoa yield and flavour. Some varieties have below average yield and flavour, while other varieties produce large yields of high-quality cocoa.
In partnership with the Samoan Cocoa Industry Development Initiative (S.C.I.D.I.), from April to December 2019, SKIA completed a cocoa tree genotyping project, with the help of the Scientific Research Organisation of Samoa (SROS) and New Zealand’s Massey University. This project aimed to find healthy and high yielding and disease resistant parent trees to supply seed and budwood for the SKIA cocoa nurseries. SKIA would then be able to produce improved quality cocoa plants for Samoan cocoa farmers on an ongoing basis.
The genotyping process consisted of collecting DNA samples from selected cocoa trees, scientifically analysing these samples, and entering the results into computer software for further analysis. The DNA was then compared with DNA from overseas cocoa trees of known varieties . If a tree is similar enough to a tree of a known variety, it can be considered to that variety. This project aimed to scientifically identify the variety of 200 cocoa trees from four farms across Upolu and Savai’i as Trinitario, Criollo, or Forastero cocoa trees.
SKIA and S.C.I.D.I. sought to identify cocoa trees as Criollo, Forastero or Trinitario, because:
- Criollo produces the finest flavour cocoa but has a low disease resistance and a low harvest yield, compared to Trinitario and Forastero. Due to its fine flavour value, Criollo is used in the production of high value chocolate products and generally produces good market returns when sold in varietal bean form.
- Forastero has high disease resistance and produces a large harvest. However, the taste of Forastero cocoa is not as complex/fine as that of Criollo and Trinitario.
- Trinitario cocoa is more disease resistant than Criollo, and produces a yield like Forastero, with a fine flavour, like Criollo.
In February 2020, the initial results and analysis were completed. Following feedback from S.C.I.D.I. and SKIA, Massey University and SROS have now officially released the final version of the report to S.C.I.D.I. and SKIA.
SKIA is now releasing the full report to interested SKIA members, as well as a summary document for everyone who wants to understand the outcome of the genotyping project but doesn’t necessarily want to read the full report. The summary document explains the science and results from a farmer and processor perspective.
To read the summary report, click here..
To discuss the full report, SKIA members can contact the SKIA Secretariat at the Samoa Chamber of Commerce & Industry, in person at Unit 21, Le Sanalele Complex, Vaea St, Saleufi, Apia, by phone on 685 310 90, or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.