Training + tools

Strengthening nurseries to build a stronger coffee seed sector

The problem

Worldwide, most farmers do not have access to high-quality coffee plants, which exposes them to tremendous unnecessary risks. In most parts of the world, when it’s time for a coffee farmer to plant a new tree on their farm, he has two choices: Save his own seed, or obtain it from a neighbor or local nurseries. Many nurseries are in remote areas and primitive, producing questionable varieties of questionable plant health. In most cases, these nurseries take or buy seeds from local farmers or institutions but do not take into consideration genetic traceability and purity of the seed—in other words, they often don’t know for certain what variety they are selling. Training is limited or nonexistent for most nursery owners; most learn on-the fly and have scarce access to technical assistance. Additionally, the vast majority of seed producers, nurseries, and farmers do not have access to tools to ensure the traceability and genetic purity of varieties as they move from seed gardens to nurseries, and from nurseries to farmer fields. For the specialty market, where specific coffee varieties like Geisha, Maragogype or Pacamara create value and can generate higher prices for farmers, it’s even more important to have access to accurate variety information.


Training. To build a strong and professional coffee seed sector that doesn’t leave out smallholder farmers, WCR implements a Nursery Development Program aimed at building the capacity of small entrepreneurial and cooperative nurseries to produce adequate volumes of genetically pure and healthy seedlings to small farms and farmers. Nursery staff or local extension officers (employed by either the private or public sector) are trained-as-trainers for lasting impact.

Best practices manuals. To fill an urgent gap in knowledge about best practices, WCR developed a series of three manuals of best practices for producing genetically pure and healthy seedlings, as well as on good business practices, tailors for nurseries both small and large. These manuals are freely available to all (see below) in Spanish and English.

Genetic traceability tools. Recent technological advances have made possible accurate, repeatable, inexpensive, and rapid options for the genetic identification of plant varieties. World Coffee Research, in partnership with the USDA and IRD, have developed a platform for the rapid and inexpensive identification of varieties.

The impact

Training small nurseries to operate technically sound and profitable nurseries, consolidating knowledge about best practices for creating healthy and genetically pure plants, and making variety authentication cheap and accessible are all foundational steps in expanding access to improved, resilient varieties for smallholders. Supporting the professionalization of the coffee nursery sector globally and putting better tools in the hands of seed producers and nurseries worldwide allows expanded access to improved, resilient varieties for smallholders, leading to increased production and profits. Such steps leading to increased production and profits, creating value for farmers. The program also builds stronger rural organizations and creates new entrepreneurial business opportunities in coffee farming communities.


Good Practice Guide: Coffee Nursery Management

Guía de Buenas Practicas en el Manejo de Vivero de Café

Guide to Running a Profitable Seed and Nursery Business

Guía para la Administracion Rentable del Negocio de Semillas y Viveros de Café