April 17, 2018 2 min read

Global Coffee Farming

Global Coffee Farming and the Future of Coffee

Coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the world, and it is also a major source of income for millions of farmers. However, the coffee industry is facing a number of challenges, including climate change, pests and diseases, and genetic uniformity.

Coffee's genetic diversity is under threat

The vast majority of coffee grown in the world today is descended from just a few coffee trees. This genetic uniformity makes the coffee industry vulnerable to shocks, such as new pests and diseases.

One of the biggest threats to coffee production today is leaf rust, a fungal disease that can devastate coffee plantations. Leaf rust is particularly resistant to fungicides, and it has been spreading rapidly in recent years.

The Center for Tropical Agricultural Research and Education (CATIE)

CATIE is a research center in Costa Rica that has a collection of over 3,000 coffee trees from around the world. This collection includes wild coffee trees from Africa, as well as coffee trees from different regions and altitudes.

CATIE's collection is a valuable resource for coffee breeders, who are working to develop new varieties of coffee that are resistant to leaf rust and other diseases.

CATIE's collection of coffee farming trees is like a botanical storage vault. It is a complete history which is preserving a piece of coffee's ancient and wild African past. They're collected from places where such coffee trees have grown since prehistoric times, evolving a whole spectrum of different genetic forms. It is nearly impossible to travel to a coffee farm and find such a variety of coffee trees. When we look at today's commercial coffee production it is based on only a tiny slice of what you see at this location.

Breeding new varieties of coffee

Coffee breeders are using CATIE's collection to develop new varieties of coffee that are resistant to leaf rust and other diseases. They are also working to develop coffee varieties with improved flavor and aroma.

One promising new variety of coffee is called Catimor. Catimor is a hybrid of Arabica and Robusta coffee. It is resistant to leaf rust and produces a good yield of coffee beans. However, Catimor coffee is not as flavorful as Arabica coffee.

The future of coffee

The future of coffee depends on the ability of coffee breeders to develop new varieties of coffee that are resistant to pests and diseases, and that have good flavor and aroma.

CATIE's collection of coffee trees is a valuable resource for coffee breeders. By studying CATIE's collection and developing new varieties of coffee, coffee breeders can help to ensure the future of the coffee industry.

What can you do to help?

Consumers can also help to support the future of coffee by buying coffee from sustainable coffee farms. Sustainable coffee farms use practices that protect the environment and improve the livelihoods of coffee farmers.

You can also learn more about the challenges facing the coffee industry and support organizations that are working to improve the sustainability of the coffee industry. 

Ethiopian Coffee Farmers and Climate Change