History of ICQC,R

Early Years


The Royal Botanic Gardens announced that quarantine of cocoa at Kew would no longer be provided as a routine service.


A collection of clones was moved from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew to the University of Reading. The material was initially maintained in the cocoa physiology house on the University campus and distributed under the Kew umbrella.


A polytunnel facility was constructed at the Field Unit, Shinfield. BCCCA agreed to administer and fund the project. BCCCA and its successor, the Cocoa Research Association (CRA) Ltd, have continued to fund the project through to the present day.

Implementation of Full Quarantine Procedures


Implementation of full quarantine procedures began in 1987 with receipt of material from abroad. The Malaysian Cocoa Growers Council and the Commonwealth Development Cooperation provided co-funding at this stage.

The quarantine operation involved grafting from newly established material onto Amelonado rootstocks, used as indicator plants for virus detection. Initially, the quarantine period was three flushes. However, after it was discovered that viruses can stay latent for an extended period of time, a decision was made to extend the quarantine period to two years.

Expansion of Scope and Size


In the 1990s the ICQC,R played an import role in the CFC/ICCO/Bioversity project on Global Approaches to Germplasm Utilization and Conservation and its successor Collaborative and Participatory Approaches to Cocoa Variety Improvement through provision of germplasm for an international clonal trial that was established in 10 countries and later through the distribution of the 'CFC/ICCO/Bioversity Collection'. The CFC provided some co-funding during this period.


In 2000, Mars funded a 400m2 greenhouse extension to the facility and provided co-funding for the recurrent activities of the project until 2005, when the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) took over this role.


The government of the Netherlands, alongside CRA Ltd., provided a grant to install energy-saving thermal screens in the greenhouses. This measure had the effect of reducing energy costs by around one-third as well as improving control of the light environment.

Updated Virus Detection Procedures


The ICQC,R started to adopt routine PCR testing of newly imported materials alongside traditional visual indexing.



In late 2014, the ICQC,R facilities were relocated to a new site at the University of Reading's Hall Farm, which was officially opened by the University's Vice Chancellor in June 2015. The re-location provided the opportunity to upgrade the facilities to a high-tech, computer-controlled 1000m2 greenhouse.

Present Day

The ICQC,R contains around 400 accessions. Exports from this germplasm have been made to over thirty different countries worldwide. Methods of improving the quarantine process continue to be explored.

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