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World Coffee Research Verified

Seed verification for healthy, genetically pure plants
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The problem

According to individual country reports, over 40% of coffee trees around the world are too old and require replanting in the next five years.   

Since the coffee sector has limited certified seed production, the risk to farmers is that the seeds for new trees are not guaranteed to conform to quality, genetic purity and variety standards. The lack of certified seed and seedling schemes in coffee results in sometimes poor quality plants and seeds and fraudulent seed purchases, which lowers productivity at the farm level.

The solution

The need for widespread replanting of new coffee trees  presents an opportunity for producers to replace lower performing varieties with improved varieties.

In order to ensure producers are purchasing genetically pure, disease-free, vigorous seeds and plants that conform to the variety standard, WCR began a program of Seed Verification in 2016. WCR will be begin by verifying planting material from four suppliers in 2015: J. Hill Coffee Producers in El Salvador, Pilones de Antigua in Guatemala, and ECOM Trading in Mexico/Nicaragua.

WCR Verified nurseries are evaluated on the following criteria:

  1. Nursery Standards. The nursery follows best practices for raising healthy, disease-free plants.
  2. Genetic Purity. The coffee variety has been identified using World Coffee Resources DNA fingerprinting so farmers can be certain they are buying the correct variety.
  3. Education. The nursery makes information about the agronomic performance of different varieties available to farmers so they can make an informed choice. 
  4. Breeder’s Rights. The nursery gives credit to breeders and their rights are respected.
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Impact

A coffee producer's most important asset is his or her plants. Ensuring access to plants of the highest quality is one of the most critical ways to lower the risks farmers face.

The World Coffee Research Verified program is the first sector-wide program to verify the quality of coffee seeds. Bringing producers widespread access to healthy, genetically pure planting material will improve both the productivity and quality of coffee as significant numbers of farms are renovated in coming years. This will lead to higher profitability for coffee producers and will help create a professional seed sector for the coffee industry, lowering farmer risk across the board.

After years of underinvestment in agriculture, national governments, donors, and multilateral institutions are now recognizing that investing in agriculture is critical to achieving the interrelated goals of poverty alleviation and food security. Planting material verification ensures the quality of large-scale seed purchases for national renovation efforts and large development projects, which help producers gain access to credit and/or subsidies for renovation. Expanding access to healthy, genetically pure planting material and providing farmers with expanded information about variety performance, will benefit thousands of coffee producers around the world.

WCR is piloting the Verified program with three nurseries in 2016: J. Hill Coffee Producers in El Salvador, Pilones de Antigua in Guatemala, and ECOM Trading in Mexico/Nicaragua. In 2017, the program will expand across Central America. The goal of the program is to make Verified planting material available to coffee producers across the world by 2020.

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  • Location: El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua
  • Leaders: Sara Bogantes
  • Cost: $10,000
  • Timeline: 2015-present