All we accomplish at TCHO is a result of many collaborative partnerships. We work hard to develop and maintain long term and mutually beneficial relationships with many cocoa organizations and professionals. One of these incredible partners is the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG). TCHO and CRIG have collaborated closely since 2013. Back in December 2013, TCHO installed a modest one room TCHO Flavor Lab at CRIG. Funding for this lab was possible from CRIG, TCHO, and the Ghana Quality Innovations (GQI) program – a subprogram of the USAID-funded African Cocoa Initiative (WCF/ACI).
The TCHO Flavor Lab at CRIG – both the space and the equipment – have been extremely well utilized. The lab enables the team at CRIG to make cocoa liquor samples and conduct sensory analysis, a service CRIG previously outsourced to laboratories in Europe. The sensory panel at CRIG is composed of scientists and staff from different departments who evaluate cacao samples from all throughout Ghana. The team at CRIG also prepares cacao samples with different harvest and postharvest treatments to train farmers throughout Ghana on best practices for good quality cacao production. Additionally, they advise national plant breeding strategies that will help shape the Ghanaian cacao industry and positively impact Ghanaian farmers for years to come. Furthermore, the lab provides samples for CRIG to share at international trade fairs to showcase the flavors of Ghana. International delegations from several cocoa producing countries, as well as many actors in Ghana’s cocoa sector, have all come to the Flavor Lab at CRIG for training on the production of cocoa liquor and sensory analysis of cocoa.
Space and equipment constraints on the CRIG lab have become a significant bottleneck in their important work in cacao sensory. However, CRIG was able to secure larger cocoa processing equipment through the USAID funded ACI II program, of which TCHO is a contributing member. With the lab’s new (and larger) equipment, they can produce large quantities of liquor samples much more efficiently, but have been bogged down by limited space in the small, one room lab.
To help solve CRIG’s space issue, TCHO has worked with the Ghana Cocoa Board to commit funding for the construction of a new stand-alone building fully dedicated to cacao flavor research and training on the CRIG campus in New Tafo. This will be an important resource towards our ultimate goal of preserving cocoa flavor quality in Ghana and across West Africa, as well as ensuring farmers are appropriately compensated for the high quality cacao they produce.
The Cocoa Flavour Lab and Training Centre at the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana will include a multi-room lab space for physical analysis of cacao beans, preparation of cacao beans into cacao liquor, sensory analysis of cacao, as well as offices for CRIG scientists and visiting researchers and a large training room.
On Tuesday, February 25th, 2020, TCHO had the honor of launching this project with our partners at CRIG at a Sod Cutting Ceremony with esteemed guests from CRIG, COCOBOD, The World Cocoa Foundation, as well as important leaders from the local Ashanti Tribe - the Chief of Tafo and the Queen Mother of Tafo.
Dr. Emmanuel Agyemang Dwomoh breaks ground with the Deputy Chief Executive of (A&QC) Agronomy and Quality Control Ghana Cocoa Board
Days after this groundbreaking ceremony, the world first began speaking of and experiencing the COVID-19 virus. Our project timeline came to a halt for many months. However, this pause allowed COCOBOD’s leadership to review the project and increase their contribution to the building. The final building will welcome guests at the forefront of CRIG’s campus and house influential research and educational training focused on cocoa quality for years to come. Construction safely began onsite in early 2021. Here are a few pictures of the updated construction designs, as well as initial construction progress pictures and video.
The finished Flavor Laboratory and Training Centre at the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana will be 100% owned and operated by the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana. We look forward to partnering with CRIG on shared cocoa research projects and farmer training for years to come. We will continue to share project updates with all of you via the blog! See the progress through June 2021 below.