Within the framework of the Clima-LoCa and Rutas PDET projects, a workshop on genetic knowledge of cocoa clones was held on June 18 of 2024, with ten cocoa producers from different municipalities in the department of Putumayo. This meeting was held at the “El Bufeo” farm (Valle de Guamuez, Colombia).

Initially, each producer was supported by technicians from The Alliance of Bioversity and CIAT to fill out a questionnaire on their perceptions of the cocoa varieties they grow on their farms.

The questionnaire was divided into the following parts: The first part consisted of identifying the most expected favorable attributes and the unfavorable attributes commonly rejected by producers. The three most expected attributes were productivity, tolerance to pests and diseases, and sensory quality of cocoa. On the other hand, the most rejected attributes were low productivity, susceptibility to pests and diseases, and the need for architecture through frequent pruning.

All growers indicated a preference for the “travesero” clones (with continuous production, generating income during most of the year), while none expressed a preference for the “cosechero” clones (with grouped production over time).

The second part consisted of identifying the varieties grown on the farms. A total number of 18 cultivars were reported, with nine of them planted before 2021. The two clones that were planted in most of the farms before 2021 are CCN 51 and ICS 95 and the clone that was planted after 2021 in the farms is FEAR 5.

In the third part, a description of the impact of climate change on cocoa trees was made. Growers reported the negative impact of prolonged rains in previous years: high incidence of diseases, flower drop, fruit abortion, and leaf yellowing. The ICS 95 clone was reported to be more resilient to this problem.

Subsequently, the cocoa producers conducted an evaluation of the varieties. They indicated a good perception of the three most frequent clones (ICS 95, CCN 51 and FEAR 5) for their high productivity, despite their negative attributes (susceptibility to witches’ broom and difficulty of management in the case of ICS 95, susceptibility to monilia and Phytophthora and low cocoa quality in the case of CCN 51, susceptibility to diseases in the case of FEAR 5).

These results indicate that farmers are still waiting for cocoa varieties that will better meet their expectations.

The fifth part consisted of discussions around the characteristics identified by researchers and producers from other departments of nine commercial clones frequently grown in Colombia.

The last part of the workshop included a tour of the “El Bufeo” farm, during which the following clones were observed: CCN 51, FEAR 5, FEC 2, LUKER 40, TCS 01 and five “supertrees” (or Sacha) selected in Ecuador.