La Reunion Estate
The La Reunion Estate is managed by the Cocoa Research Section (CRS), which is a research division of Trinidad’s Ministry of Agriculture. The La Reunion Estate, located not far from Trinidad’s international airport, is a 200 hectare estate that serves as both a commercial enterprise and a research farm. In addition to fields that are populated with many different commercial and research-based cacao varieties, the estate also houses a processing facility for the beans harvested from the numerous fields. Fermentation is done in cedar boxes arranged in an ergonomic cascade system and the beans are then dried on a perforated bed using artificial drying methods. The facility also has traditional movable rooftop drying houses, but these are used only when absolutely necessary due to work scheduling constraints.
The CRS has a long research history that is tied to one of the most productive and successful breeding initiatives that the local and international cocoa industry has ever known: development of the Trinidad Select Hybrids (TSH). These varieties are well-known for resistance to black pod and witches’ broom diseases, and also important traits that matter to producers and buyers alike, inclusive of high bean weight and bean number per pod, as well as excellent flavour profiles. Field and lab-based evaluations of the many varieties located at the La Reunion estate are always ongoing since the Ministry has a mandate to supply farmers with the best materials possible. Improvements in performance and quality of cocoa varieties are therefore always expected from this estate. When varieties are approved for commercial purposes, they are then replicated through various propagation methods and sold in large numbers to the cocoa farmer population here in Trinidad and Tobago.