Funded by the new 100K Strong Cacao for Peace grant, UArizona and Uniminuto students and faculty will strengthen the cacao industry by designing and implementing scientific training programs
The University of Arizona and Corporación Universitaria Minuto de Dios (Uniminuto), through grant funding provided by the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund, will aim to establish an exchange program that emphasizes high-level interdisciplinary support for students in an effort to identify the challenges prevalent in the cacao value chain in farmer associations, solve one of these challenges, and create a new study abroad module.
As members of this new 100K Strong Cacao for Peace grant, UArizona and Uniminuto students and faculty will strengthen the cacao industry by designing and implementing scientific training programs. The goal is to expand cacao research collaboration and create access to inclusive exchanges of scientific and technical personnel in both countries.
This latest 100K Strong in Americas Innovation program is funded in part by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the U.S. Embassy in Colombia, in partnership with the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. The 100K Strong Cacao for Peace teams are comprised of nine United States colleges and universities in eight states working in partnership with eight regional higher education institutions in Colombia to implement new exchange and training programs for upwards of 70 students and faculty during 2024.
Otto Gonzalez, Senior Director for Agricultural Economic Development Division of the U.S. Foreign Agricultural Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, stated that these teams will be able to advance research in areas like sustainable productivity, climate resilience, and food safety. “The outcomes from these projects will positively impact cacao farmers and actors along the entire value chain in Colombia and will support the U.S. chocolate industry ensure a supply of safe, high-quality cacao,” he said via press release.
The UArizona and Uniminuto collaboration will work with cacao producers to specifically target solutions to challenges in the areas of production, processing, marketing, and exporting of products.
“We strive to provide opportunities for our students to develop and apply their entrepreneurial mindsets across the range of community and industry settings and regardless of their discipline or programs of study,” said Matthew Mars, Ph.D., UArizona Associate Professor of Agricultural Leadership and Innovation and the Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Agricultural Education. “This project will create opportunities for students and faculty and the University of Arizona and Uniminuto to work with cacao famers in Columbia to identify opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship and optimize both their production and marketing of their products.”
The 100K Strong Innovation Fund is the public-private sector collaboration between the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Embassies, and Partners of the Americas, working with regional private, public, and academic sectors to harness the power of education to expand inclusive exchange programs between the U.S. and Latin America and the Caribbean.
Corporación Universitaria Minuto de Dios, or Uniminuto, is a not-for-profit tertiary education institution established in 1990 in Bogotá, Colombia. Uniminuto’s mission is to offer high-quality, easily reachable, complete, and flexible higher education to support the development of highly competent and ethically responsible individuals in Colombia.
For more information on the 100K Strong Cacao for Peace teams, please visit 100kstrongamericas.org