Closure of the Global Coffee Monitoring Program
Effective September 1st, 2021, World Coffee Research is closing its Global Coffee Monitoring Program, a global network of on-farm trials. This programmatic shift implements WCR’s planned evolution toward our 2021-2025 strategy. It reaffirms our commitment to invest in programs that deliver the highest returns for farmers, coffee producing countries, and WCR member companies.
In 2020, WCR launched a new five-year strategy, developed after extensive consultation and external peer review. The strategy recognizes the importance of breeding, field trials and quality assessment, and nursery/seed sector engagement as key drivers of productivity, profitability, and quality. While variety trials remain a critical component of our research pipeline, WCR has rebalanced our research portfolio to increase the investment in breeding and nursery work following substantive internal and external review and a recommendation from our board of directors. (WCR's global network of variety trials led by partner research institutions, the International Multi-location Variety Trial, is not impacted.)
The shift allows WCR to invest more heavily in programs and tools that provide near-term impact for farmers, who need better access to healthy plants and improved varieties. It also allows an increased investment in breeding. Since the launch of the 2020 strategy, WCR has amplified its efforts to strengthen national coffee breeding programs in key countries including Ethiopia and Uganda. In 2022, WCR plans to launch a long-awaited global breeding network that will bring modern breeding approaches to coffee in support of national coffee institutes.
“The best time to plant a tree—or start a breeding program—was 20 years ago,” says WCR CEO Vern Long. “The second best time is today. As a science organization, we believe in learning from the evidence. In this case, the evidence was clear that there is tremendous urgency to accelerate and deepen our support of breeding and nursery programs. So that’s what we’re doing.”
While the global network will close, on-farm trials will remain in four countries: Nicaragua, Peru, Philippines, and Democratic Republic of Congo. For other countries, participating farmers can keep the trees planted on their farms—typically a mix of one common variety in the region and two improved varieties—and can sell the coffee commercially. In some countries, including Kenya and Rwanda, national coffee research institutions plan to take over the plots and use them to evaluate variety performance. In other cases, local partners will continue to use the plots as demonstration sites to showcase better varieties to neighboring farmers.