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Coffee varieties of mesoamerica and the caribbean

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Breeding for the Future

Coffee plants for the 21st century
Minicuttings

The problem

Current coffee varieties were created for 20th century coffee sector.  We already have significant evidence that they will not tolerate the environmental threats of the 21st century—changing weather patterns, increased temperatures, and new disease and insect prevalence. This creates a potentially disastrous decline in supply in the coming decades.

The solution

Building the next generation of coffee varieties and sustaining the industry’s genetic and breeding pools is a major, cross-cutting initiative too big for an individual institute to undertake, which is why a global organization like World Coffee Research must lead the effort.

In the coming years, together with our partners, we will:

  • Discover new genes and create a comprehensive database of genes and markers using the latest DNA technologies that allow us to identify the best parents for breeding programs (ongoing)
  • Locating the 100 existing varieties with the most genetic diversity to become a central breeding pool (the Core Collection), and use it to develop new inter- and intra-specific hybrids that combine maximum genetic diversity with high performance (new plants in five years)
  • Create enhanced Arabicas that combine the best characteristics of Arabica and Robusta in one plant (new plants in 10 years)
  • Re-create Arabica by replicating the events of the original natural cross of C. eugenioides with C. Canephora; the new plants will have novel genetic diversity that can be used in breeding programs to unlock resilience traits and deliver extremely high quality (new plants in 15-20 years)
  • Develop the next generation of coffee breeders

All these programs are underpinned by the WCR Sensory program that ensures the highest cup quality through early generation and parental screening.

Impact

The coffee industry cannot single-handedly reverse climate change. Our best hope for sustaining the supply of high quality coffee in the 21st century is to focus on making the coffee plant more resilient. The creation of new, highly adaptable varieties, supported by a vibrant new seed sector, will result in major global productivity and quality gains in the next 10-20 years.


Project Updates

  • Hub

    Since our creation in 2012, World Coffee Research has worked to create a path for sustainable coffee production through agricultural innovation to help coffee farmers face the challenges of climate change. One of our main area of focus has been the creation and propagation of the next generation of coffee varieties that are high in quality and yield, and resilient to diseases and the effects of climate change. This month, we are making great strides in this area with the launch of our African breeding hub in Rwanda, hosted by our partners at the Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB).

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  • Coping with 32°

    Date: 6.21.18
    Heat stress

    Research shows clearly that rising temperatures pose the greatest threat to coffee, greater even than increased drought.

    Read the Whole Story
  • F1 experimental Costa Rica

    The coffee industry cannot single-handedly reverse climate change. Our best hope for sustaining the supply of high quality coffee in the 21st century is to focus on making the coffee plant more resilient. The creation of new, highly adaptable coffees, supported by a vibrant new seed sector, will result in major global productivity and quality gains in the next 10-20 years. In 2015, WCR achieved a number of milestones toward this goal.

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  • Authors: Major funding from USAID and the European Union
  • Location: Colombia, Kenya, Costa Rica, France
  • Leaders: Benoit Bertrand
  • Partners: CIRAD, CATIE, Promecafe, RAB, USAID, BREEDCAFS Project,
  • Timeline: 2013-present