Published November 27, 2023 | Version v1
Publication Open

Procedures for Safe Movement of Cocoa Germplasm

  • 1. School of Agriculture, Policy and Development, University of Reading, RG6 6EU, UK
  • 2. Cocoa Research Association,


Increased productivity on cocoa farms can be achieved through a combination of supplying improved planting materials and good agricultural practice. Targets for improved genotypes typically include high yield potential, good bean size and fat content, resilience to pests and diseases and, increasingly, resilience to environmental stresses (e.g. drought). Access to a diverse range of germplasm is key to the breeding and selection activities that ultimately provide improved planting materials to farmers. However, any movement of germplasm to meet the requirement for such diversity brings with it the concurrent risk of the spread of pests and diseases. Therefore, all movement of cocoa germplasm must adhere to safe movement protocols and quarantine procedures.

The Technical Guidelines for the Safe Movement of Cacao Germplasm were originally published by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and since 2010 have been updated under the auspices of CacaoNet and published by Bioversity International (now Alliance of Bioversity International-CIAT). The most recent update was published in 2021 and is available on-line, free of charge, in English, French and Spanish. The first part of the guidelines consists of information on the geographical spread of important pests and diseases of cocoa and general recommendations on safe movement procedures. The second part includes up-to-date information on specific pests and diseases along with information on quarantine measures required, each authored/updated by one or more experts of the respective pest/disease. The latest update also includes information on more recently characterised viruses and on pests of emerging importance (e.g. Carmenta spp. in S. America).

The International Cocoa Quarantine Centre at the University of Reading (ICQC,R) provides the main hub for international movement of cocoa germplasm and has been in operation for over 35 years. Procedures in place within the facility include visual indexing for viruses and other pests and diseases over a two-year period combined with PCR testing with a suite of primers that are periodically updated according to current information on viruses of cocoa. The list of germplasm available at ICQC, R can be found at and detailed information on specific genotypes is provided through links to the International Cocoa Germplasm Database (ICGD).

Keywords: Safe movement, quarantine, pests and diseases, crop improvement


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