The Nextcoa Project, which commits the alliance of the public and private sectors and links the Industrial University of Santander (UIS) to the economic development of Colombia, was initiated at the end of 2017 to modernize, through the use of science and technology, the processes of transformation of cocoa.
The purpose is to create new cocoa flavors (characteristic of the region) and produce biomaterials for the specialized industry and advanced materials for the food industry, as well as liquor, cocoa, cocoa butter and toppings.
The execution of the project is carried out in the Biotechnology Laboratory of the Guatiguará Technology Park, in the municipality of Piedecuesta (Department of Santander), where the intense scientific activity compromises the intervention of professionals in different disciplines.
Traditionally, little economic benefit has been achieved by cocoa producers in Colombia, according to PhD in Chemistry and Professor at the Universidad Industrial de Santander Cristian Blanco Tirado, director of the Nextcoa Project.
The artisanal processes of cacao, which follow a centuries-old tradition, not only waste substantial parts of the fruit but also contaminate the environment.
"The purpose of the Nextcoa Project is to modernize these processes through the use of science and technology to enable the development of entirely new products that will revolutionize the industry, add value to the cocoa chain and generate economic and social benefits." The idea is to move from tradition to innovative developments, which give greater profits to growers, traders and cocoa processors around the country, says Professor Blanco Tirado.
The new products that will result from the execution of the Nextcoa Project will have an important commercial impact over time, affirmed PhD in Chemistry, and Professor at the Universidad Industrial de Santander Cristian Blanco Tirado, who directs this scientific proposal that is being implemented since the end of the year 2017.
With the use of all parts of the cocoa-almond cob, mucilage and husk -we will produce bacterial cellulose, cyclodextrins and syrups for the specialized industry, as well as advanced materials for the food industry, from bacterial cellulose and butter of cocoa.
In the near future, Colombia will receive the positive impact of the work carried out by the Nextcoa Project, which, incidentally, "will establish a model for the improvement of agroindustrial processes in the country", says professor Blanco. The Nextcoa Project is carried out with the investment of $ 10,476 million Colombian pesos, just over 3 million dollars, approximately.