Mars and IBM are to combine scientific and research resources with the US Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) in an attempt to sequence and analyse the entire cocoa genome.
IBM said in a statement that the combined effort could benefit more than 6.5 million farmers worldwide and help sustain the supply of chocolate.
The five-year research project is aimed at helping farmers to plant better quality cocoa, creating healthier, stronger crops with higher yields and improved disease resistance.
It is hoped that the effort will bring social, economic and environmental benefits to the African continent, where 70 per cent of the world's cocoa is produced.
Unlike other major crops such as corn, wheat and rice, cocoa has been the subject of little agricultural research despite its major contribution to the US economy.
According to IBM, for every dollar's worth of cocoa imported into the US, between one and two dollars' worth of domestic agricultural products are used in the manufacture of chocolate products.
The research project will take place at the USDA-ARS facility in Miami, aided by technology from IBM.
"This collaboration is an opportunity for us to apply our computational biology and supercomputing expertise to help improve an economically important agricultural crop," said Dr Mark Dean, IBM fellow and vice president at IBM Research.
Mars has pledged to make its research results freely available through the Public Intellectual Property Resource for Agriculture.
IBM has produced a video promotion of the Cocoa Genome project which is available on YouTube.
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