The World Cocoa Foundation and Lindt & Sprungli are giving money to the U.S. Department Agriculture (USDA) to help support research of Ecuadorian cocoa.

The financial gift was specifically given to the USDA’s research service’s Sustainable Perennial Crops Laboratory (SPCL)  to support genetics research on fine-flavor cocoa varieties found in Ecuador.

The exact amount of the gift was not disclosed, but the World Cocoa Foundation said, “The project’s five-figure budget was developed in consultations between WCF, Lindt and USDA and responds to research needs identified in Ecuador.”

The goal is to fund research that helps ensure the long term supply of cocoa and chocolate products that contain prized flavor attributes.

"We are proud to partner with Lindt & Sprungli to support USDA's research in Ecuador,” says

World Cocoa Foundation President Bill Guyton. “By better understanding the diversity of Ecuadorian cocoa, we are positioned to maintain production of distinctive cocoa varieties, while helping farmers to benefit from increased yields."

SPCL's research is focused on understanding the genetic diversity of Ecuador's Nacional type cocoa varieties and how they differ from other varieties grown throughout South America and the Caribbean.

In collaboration with the Ecuadorian National Agricultural Research Institute (INIAP), SPCL is establishing genetic profiles for all traditional cocoa varieties in Ecuador, while focusing on "Arriba cocoa."

By exploring on-farm diversity in Ecuador, the research will also strengthen INIAP's efforts to select high yielding and disease-resistant Nacional varieties.

The research findings will be used to promote the conservation of traditional varieties and will work to verify the quality of Nacional beans reaching the marketplace.

More than 100,000 Ecuadorean families are active in the cultivation of cocoa trees. The country exports approximately 65 percent of the global supply of fine-flavor cocoa. And, the varieties of cocoa found in Ecuador are prized for their unique floral flavors.