Research Divisions/Units » Physiology/Biochemistry Division
The Division studies the physiological and biochemical bases for sustained growth and production of cocoa, coffee, kola, cashew, and shea. Its main focus includes studies into components of yield relating to plant nutrition, drought resistance/tolerance and shade requirements of cocoa, as well as biochemical and molecular bases for black pod and cocoa swollen shoot virus diseases. In line with current trends in crop improvement the Division is using molecular markers and genomic resources for germplasm characterization and breeding for disease resistance in close collaboration with the Plant Breeding Division.
Current research areas
- Cocoa Quality Monitoring for Quality Assurance in cocoa produced for the international market. This involves routine monitoring of pH, level of fermentation using the cut test and fermentation index, fat, total sugars, protein, and polyphenol content.
- Monitoring of tested and approved agrochemical residues in cocoa, soil and water bodies in the cocoa growing areas in collaboration with the Entomology Division and Quality Control Company of COCOBOD using GC-MS.
- Physiological effect of shade on growth and yield of cocoa is under on-station trial in a 6 acre demonstration farm.
- Development of drought resistant/tolerant cocoa for planting in marginal and denuded areas is intensely researched.
- Identifying sex pheromones of some cocoa insect pests for their control to minimize the use of insecticides on the environment.
- Monitoring the microbiological quality of coffee beans grown in Ghana for the international market.
- Development and use of molecular markers such as microsatellite markers (SSRs) and Single Nucleotide Polymorphic markers (SNPs) for germplasm characterization and in marker assisted breeding (with Plant Breeding Division)
- Cashew research currently deals with productive uses of cashew and other agricultural wastes for cultivation of Oyster mushroom. Briquettes, which are fuel wood substitutes, are produced from cashew nut shells. Wine and vinegar are produced from cashew fruits and formulations of cashew nut shell liquid (CNSL) are developed for termite control and wood preservation.
- Shea research is directed to the development of standard operating conditions for quality assurance for the primary processing of the shea nuts for good quality butter. Use of natural antioxidants for prolonging the shelf-life of Shea butter is under investigation.
- Cocoa by-product work involves the development of standard operating procedures (SOP) for producing alcohol from cocoa pulp juice using starter cultures derived from cocoa heap fermentations
- Three demonstration farms at Pankese, Apedwa and Nyagbo Sroe (VR) to test for super high yielding cocoa varieties (Pankese and Apedwa) and Black pod resistant varieties (Nyagbo Sroe) have been established. This came as a result of discovery of Black pod resistant cocoa varieties among CRIG's germplasm using microsatellite molecular markers under a CRIG/USDA Miami Project initiated by the Physiology/Biochem Division.
- Implemented a tray fermentation project in parts of the Eastern and Volta regions on pilot scale to train farmers on the use of this alternative fermentation procedure which has the potential for repeated use, scale up and reduction of the use of plantain leaves for fermentation. This method also produces homogeneous fermentations all the time
- The Kirkhouse Trust Mobile laboratory is a popular laboratory service program which is providing valuable laboratory service to Universities and Research Institutes in Ghana. The mobile lab has also enlarged the international recognition of CRIG as a centre of excellence for cocoa research. The Kirkhouse Trust Project was implemented by the Physiology/Biochem Division since 2007.
- Under a World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) Grant awarded to the Physiology/Biochemistry Division, we have been able to train over 1000 women and youth in all cocoa growing areas to produce Alata Samina using an innovative CRIG technology. This program was completed in 2010. A follow up visit to the areas show the most trained personnel are still producing the soap using the CRIG technology.