Because coffee is at risk, and we are all in this together.
Observing year by year, and talking to our partners, we decided to take a step towards a global solution instead of putting all the effort and all the resources into singular support to our partners. As an industry of specialty coffee movement, we are having a significant and personal, one-to-one approach, which is necessary and beautiful, but we can’t fix alone the global climate change problem. And we won’t stop pursuing the small battles which eventually and hopefully will win the war.
As a part of the agricultural industry, we have an obligation towards the mutual goal. To eliminate the risks that producers are facing each year in every origin country. World Coffee Research (WCR) is a 501(c)5 non-profit agricultural research organization based in California. One of their major programs implemented in 2015 is a Breeding program which we are observing very closely. The main goal is to produce stable, high-yielding, high-quality, healthy and genetically pure plants to help mitigate the global problem of leaf rust, higher temperatures, more critical growing conditions and higher transparency of plants.
If you will look closely at what is going to happen over the next 20-30 years within the coffee, we are going to go through major optimization of coffee production. How World Coffee Research is creating a part of the solution, described below
1. Coffee breading happens through 22 National Programs where each program is in tune with the needs of the production within each one of those countries. Often National Programs are under-researched, or they may not have the right mechanisms and so WCR’s role is to maximize these operations while populating globally new breeds every 3-5 years.
2. By creating a centralized data system, WCR can closely and efficiently monitor on a global level, yield, adaptation, durability, rust, stability, also providing the national programs with a population they’ll be able to develop material for their own production country.
3. Through a concept called COOPETITION – all National Programs will work together to solve basic issues, and then each national program will have the same technology for the breeding population. Think global act local motto of WCR.
WCR’s approach isn’t new, it isn’t starting from the ground and without a solid base. From 2015, IMLVT program has been successfully implemented in 22 countries. As stated, almost every coffee producing country took a part in this global initiative. In 22 countries with utterly different environment, the potential of finding varieties, which are stable, high yielding, rust resistant and of a good quality is enormous. In fact, after countless initial cupping sessions with over 60 Q-graders, scores are very promising. Through 31 varieties in 17 environments , WCR already collected a material which will be used in Global breeding program.
For most professionals, one question will appear. Is breeding program and creating new varieties connected to GMO?
Genomic selection does not manipulate DNA. It uses the ability to “peek” inside the plant’s round of crosses faster and cheaper. In simpler words, scientists are looking at genetic markers withing the DNA and peek into the plant genetics to look at which gens are the performers and which ones are not. WCR analyzed over 3000 plants worldwide.
We call it hope and are jumping into action. With a help of like-minded roasters and coffee companies we can try to create a better material used to deliver great cup score, create stability in yield and prevent leaf rust in destroying producer’s crops. If you feel like, what we implemented as a routine has value standing out to you, we kindly ask you to support World Coffee Research initiatives.
Two short and important videos to watch, get inspired!
WCR – https://worldcoffeeresearch.org/programs