October 20, 2021. The International Cocoa Organization (ICCO), composed of all cocoa exporting and importing countries in the world, unanimously ratified the appointment of Adriana Arciniegas-Leal, researcher at the Agroforestry and Genetic Improvement of Coffee and Cocoa Unit of CATIE (Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center), as a member of its Ad-Hoc Panel of experts, representing the Central American region.
This panel is made up of 12 international experts with a minimum of five years of professional experience backed by a high scientific level, technical qualification and knowledge of cocoa cultivation in various disciplines, including: sensory evaluation, agronomy, genetics, value added, trade and certification, among others.
The membership is equitable and is represented by six members from cocoa exporting countries and six members from cocoa importing countries. Members should, as far as possible, represent the cocoa exporting regions: Central America, South America, the Caribbean, East Africa, the Indian Ocean, Asia and the Pacific, West and Central Africa.
"I feel very fortunate, blessed, proud and with a great responsibility. I consider it an important opportunity to be able to share my knowledge and the technical versatility I have of the crop, alongside 11 other international experts who will enrich, expand and strengthen my knowledge and professional experience," said Arciniegas-Leal.
The ICCO Ad-Hoc Panel is dedicated to establishing the different procedures to evaluate, review and recommend compliance with the export volumes of cocoa beans in the fine and flavor category in each of the producing countries, defining the export percentages of the bean in that particular category.
"The work of the panel is very important because it is responsible for deliberating, reviewing and qualifying the condition of each of the countries producing fine and flavored cocoa worldwide. According to the review of the panel and the ICCO, export quotas for fine and flavor cocoa are established, a concept that is defined according to the special characteristics of cocoa in terms of flavors, aromas and particular genetics. Only 5 to 8% of the cocoa produced globally falls into this category," said Arciniegas-Leal.
As a member of the panel, the CATIE researcher and graduate will have to actively participate in the organization's meetings, collaborate on proposed decisions, review all technical dossiers and make recommendations to Central American countries to maintain or increase their export quotas for fine and aromatic cocoa.
"There are few countries worldwide with a 100% fine and aroma cocoa recognition; most of them are from the Americas, with Costa Rica being the only Central American country with this qualification. By having this qualification, countries can negotiate higher prices for their cocoa in international markets," Arciniegas-Leal explained.
ICCO is a global institution created under the auspices of the United Nations since 1973. The organization is composed of 51 cocoa producing and consuming member countries, of which 22 are exporting countries and 29 are importing countries.
Its main function is to support the sustainable development of the world cocoa sector, promoting cooperation among its member countries and other stakeholders, considering the producer, environmental sustainability, consumption, statistics and local development, and integrating all actors in the cocoa value chain.
Coffee and Cocoa Agroforestry and Plant Breeding Unit
Karla Salazar Leiva
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