Cocoa CCN-51 Why is its production prohibited in Venezuela?

Cocoa plantation CCN-51 in Ecuador. Photo: Ministry of Agriculture of Ecuador.

At Puro Chocolate we explain why the Venezuelan agricultural health authorities issued an administrative order restricting the entry into the country of the seed or plant of the cloned Ecuadorian cocoa CCN-51 or Castro Naranjal Collection.

At the Official Gazette of January 25 of this year 2022 the National Government published an administrative ruling of the National Institute of Comprehensive Agricultural Health (Insai) No. 014/2021 in which the production, reproduction, establishment and distribution of the CCN-51 clone cocoa plant or Castro Naranjal Collection is prohibited in the country.

This decision, according to the content of the legal text, seeks to protect cocoa plantations in Venezuela, mostly of the Creole and Trinitarian type, which due to their characteristics of aroma and flavor, International Cocoa Organization (ICCO) has cataloged it as a high quality product.

Cocoa CCN-51 What is it?

The CCN-51 cocoa variety or Castro Naranjal Collection is a clone of high productivity and tolerant to diseases that was developed in Ecuador in 1965 by the Ambateño agronomist Homero Castro Zurita to improve the yield of this fruit; however, its low quality in flavor and aroma has made it a threat to native crops of this fruit species both in that country and ours.

In Ecuador, according to the National Association of Cocoa Exporters and Industrialists, this clone, which on June 22, 2005 was declared a high-productivity good by ministerial agreement, represents 72% of exports, while fine aroma national cocoa represents 28%.

And although there are markets for both types of cocoa, countries that do not require a higher quality fruit for the production of their chocolate or other products for the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industry, its price, which is calculated at the same time as the fine aroma, whose process is more expensive, gradually forcing the farmer to replace his Theobroma Cacao L plant with this clone.

Venezuela case

In Venezuela, for several years, cocoa experts have warned about the need to prevent the entry into the country of this clone created in Ecuador, due to the risk that mixing with our cocoa affects its quality.

According to administrative ruling Insai No. 014/2021, clone CCN-51 is a foreign cocoa, whose main characteristics are high acidity, bitterness and astringency, which can alter the organoleptic properties that affect the quality of Venezuelan cocoa.

And he adds that this clone, which has the ability to genetically recombine with indigenous Venezuelan cocoa, reducing its characteristic quality, as well as its commercial value inside and outside the territory, is susceptible to the fungus Moniliophthora roreri Monilla, which represents a disease of quarantine importance for national production.

Threat to Venezuelan cocoa

During a visit to the country in 2017, Ecuadorian agronomist Milton Bolaños warned in an interview with the Viva El Cacao portal that CCN-51 is the greatest threat in terms of quality for Creole cocoa plantations in Venezuela.

“The flavor profile of CCN-51 is not only significantly less desirable, it also requires a much longer fermentation time than cocoa beans here,” he said.

However, despite the fact that he stated that the quality provided by a chocolate made with Venezuelan cocoa is unsurpassed, there is a market for everything and he pointed out that the CCN-51 is a good option for ordinary or relatively good chocolates. “It all depends on the typical mixes that chocolatiers make and what market segment this product is aimed at,” he pointed out.

Regarding the production of indigenous Venezuelan cocoa, Bolaños considered that in Venezuela they can reach respectable levels, although for this, he said, "producers must change paradigms, be farmers and not peasants, as we commonly say in Ecuador, they must dedicate and apply knowledge, skills, abilities and aptitude”.

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