CATIE Will Now Have A New Space To Conserve Its International Coffee Collection
In celebration of World Coffee Day, CATIE is inaugurating a new space to safeguard the genetic resources of coffee, reaffirming its commitment to the long-term conservation and use of coffee for the world.
CARTAGO, Costa Rica (September 30, 2022) – For 73 years, the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE), based in Costa Rica, has maintained a diverse international coffee collection that is freely available to breeders, farmers and plant scientists. Along with that in the three ‘origin collections’ in Africa, this diversity is key to the future of coffee, according to the Global Strategy for the Conservation of Coffee Genetic Resources.
Together with coffee institutes and farmers across the Americas, CATIE has been exploring the diversity in its collection to develop resilient varieties that are more tolerant to coffee rust and other diseases, and are, at the same time, highly productive, and offer better cup quality. Some of these new varieties have already positively impacted the livelihoods of thousands of rural families in Latin America.
However, maintaining this coffee collection year in and year out, and making it available, hasn’t been easy. A recent diagnostic study revealed that its diversity is threatened. Approximately 80% of the samples are in danger of becoming extinct.
That’s why in 2021, with the support of the Crop Trust and the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, CATIE began taking steps towards the sustainable long-term conservation of coffee genetic resources. In the first phase, it will relocate a total of 168 samples which were identified as those at greatest risk of loss, to an area with more favorable conditions. Eventually, the whole collection will be moved to this new site. The entire process is expected to take approximately six years to complete.
"CATIE's coffee collection is very important to the multilateral system of exchange of agricultural genetic resources promoted by the International Treaty. Efforts to rescue and efficiently use these globally important collections must be redoubled," said Kent Nnadozie, Secretary of the International Plant Treaty.
To mark World Coffee Day, the director general of CATIE Muhammad Ibrahim officially inaugurated the new site, symbolically planting the first of many coffee plants, and reiterating the organization’s commitment to conserving coffee diversity in support of the region’s—and the world’s—coffee farmers.
"This collection is more than 70 years old and CATIE has used it to generate knowledge and provide solutions to the problems faced by the coffee sector due to climate change. The genetic diversity safeguarded here, with help from partners such as the Crop Trust and the International Plant Treaty, is key to the search for technological innovations and new varieties that will benefit coffee farmers and their families," said Ibrahim.
The event also highlights the opportunity to bring together national and international stakeholders to protect the CATIE coffee collection and ensure its sustainability, and that of the coffee industry which it underpins.
"The Crop Trust and the International Treaty support the move of the collection to a better site, and we hope that CATIE will continue its great commitment to safeguard this valuable diversity for humanity," said Stefan Schmitz, executive director of the Crop Trust. He added: "We make a special call to the governments and the private coffee sector of the Americas to join in this never-ending task of safeguarding and making coffee diversity available to the entire world. If you value your morning cup, give us a call."
For more information:
William Solano, Researcher, Coffee and Cocoa Agroforestry and Plant Breeding Unit
Dannia Gamboa Solís, Communications Assistant, Information Technology and Communication
Sarada Krishnan, co-author of the Global Coffee Strategy, and Director of Science
Luis Salazar, Communications Manager
International Treaty on Genetic Resources of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (ITPGRFA)
Álvaro Toledo, Undersecretary
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