In 2020, WCR launched a strategy planning process to define our 2021-2025 strategy, which began with a global consultation of stakeholders from across the value stream. WCR’s 2021-2025 strategy responds to the threat of eroding origin diversity through a strategic focus on accelerating innovation for coffee agriculture. WCR continues to place the highest priority on guiding development of relevant technologies and actionable knowledge and fostering a global network for advancing innovation. Our technical focus remains the same as since our founding—genetic improvement to improve quality and production traits that increase profitability and climate resilience for farmers. Our focus extends to the systems that provide farmers with access to improved varieties—the entire innovation pipeline, from breeding through field trials, to nurseries and seed value chains.
In 2021-2025, our strategic aim is to preserve origin diversity in the face of the climate crisis by accelerating innovation for coffee agriculture to enhance the productivity, profitability, and quality of coffee across major market segments in multiple, strategically targeted countries.
Why is origin diversity the focus of this strategy? If fewer countries are producing more of the world’s coffee, it makes it harder to find the unique flavors that coffee drinkers want and coffee businesses rely on. It creates significant risk to stability in coffees supplies. It also consolidates the benefits of agricultural productivity, profitability, and quality gains in the hands of fewer farmers and limits the distribution of benefits from coffee export revenue for countries. Aligning global efforts to accelerate agricultural innovation across multiple origins to ensure stable supplies of quality coffee benefits coffee businesses, coffee farmers, coffee nations, and drives consumer engagement.
In genetics, in agricultural systems, and in global economics alike, diversity confers resilience. The stakes have never been higher than they are today for a tree crop like coffee: a coffee plant put into the ground today will suffer the full brunt of climate change over the next three decades, and so will farmers. But coffee agriculture also has the potential to contribute substantially to global climate mitigation goals. Coffee agriculture and coffee businesses need to build resilience and creatively drive innovation to achieve our climate goals to thrive in the 21st century. The strategic alignment of collaborative agricultural R&D efforts to support origin diversity contributes in significant ways to achieve this and distribute the benefits across the value stream.
We will achieve this aim through an agricultural R&D program that advances three interconnected objectives:
- Enhance the productivity of climate-resilient coffee production in order to increase farmer profitability, the linchpin of farmer economic sustainability
- Improve the quality potential of coffee trees for different market segments (from commercial to premium to specialty, encompassing both arabica and robusta)
- Mitigate supply chain risk by enhancing the competitiveness of strategically selected countries from the Americas, East Africa and Asia and driving an innovation agenda toward climate goals
Stable supplies of quality coffee are critical for the global coffee industry; a stable industry is critical for supporting the livelihoods of coffee farmers. But the challenges of the climate crisis, price volatility, the limited availability and accessibility of farmer-friendly technologies, and new trends and opportunities in the market require agricultural innovations that respond to both farmer and industry needs.
Our 2021-2025 strategy responds to these needs by positioning WCR as a bridge between industry market demand and national research programs to bring tools and approaches with proven track records in other crops, including user-led design, to accelerate progress in coffee agricultural research, driving value for the global industry, from farmers to consumers.
Through advocacy, leverage, and direct research, WCR will support strategic countries to design and deliver relevant agricultural innovations. In doing so, WCR will meaningfully contribute to the enhanced competitiveness of key countries and their ability to address major threats to supplies of quality coffee and that improve resilience and profitability for coffee farmers.