Cocoa Pollination for Optimised Production

A second insect identification course is taking place in Jamaica, organised by the Cocoa Industry Board. Around 27 students, Ministry of Agriculture & Fisheries and CASE staff attended and learned about the diversity of insects on a cocoa estate and how to identify them using morphological and molecular techniques.

Lecture notes from the course were made available to course attendees during June 2014.

A busy week of meetings and activities for NRI and UTT teams in Trinidad. As we move into Year 2 the focus is on building on the research and training that took place in Year 1. On this visit, odour-baited Delta traps were deployed on one farm site to investigate attraction of cocoa midges to odours, and samples of different potential larval breeding materials were surveyed. This has provided some indications about optimal larval environments and media, which will be used to inform the midge-rearing component of the project.

A midge-rearing facility in Trinidad is currently being developed with the equipment and resources necessary to investigate the life-cycle of midges and raise cultures of key species.

Deployment of Delta traps on a cocoa farm in Trinidad. Special sachets of particular odours can be included in the traps, in order to selectively attract midges or other insects, or evaluate the attractiveness of specific blends of odour compounds to the midges.

Insect identification and diversity workshop is held at the University of Trinidad and Tobago, equipping course participants with fundamental skills in identifying insects to order and family level. This enables students and researchers to become involved in processing insect biodiversity samples from cocoa estates, identifying possible and probable pollinators for further analysis. Eight people attended the one-week workshop.

Pinned insect specimens

CocoaPOP has launched in Jamaica!

The second year of the project has kicked off with a partner meeting in Kingston, Jamaica. Partners and key stakeholders attended, with representatives from Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and the UK. The meeting reviews the progress made during the first year (over 14000 insects from our traps have now been processed, with dozens of cocoa midges separated out for expert identification). Year 2 plans were laid down.

The presentation reviewing Year 1's progress can be found here: [pdf file, 3MB]

Monitoring of biodiversity and midge surveys has now commenced at two sites in Jamaica – thank you to the Cocoa Industry Board and private farm staff who made this possible. Training of local staff in the monitoring techniques has taken place, and the project is currently planning a trip to Jamaica in 2014 to provide capacity in identification of insects in cocoa estates.

Site visit near Highgate
Training staff in deploying traps

Sampling of odours from cocoa trees also took place. This will enable comparison of the odours of cocoa flowers in Trinidad and Jamaica.

Sampling cocoa odours in Orange River, Jamaica

Monitoring is also continuing at two sites in Trinidad and Tobago, so thank you to the staff and farmers who are helping with that as well.

Project coordination workshop is held at the University of Trinidad and Tobago and field activities are initialised to assess insect biodiversity and chemical ecology of pollinators.