Climate-resilient Arabica hybrids introduced to Vietnam


A joint project between the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD) and Breeding Coffee for Agroforestry Systems (BREEDCAFS) has resulted in a variety of F1 Arabica coffee hybrids being introduced to Vietnam to help combat the effects of climate change.

This project was also in partnership with the Northern Mountainous Agro-forestry Science Institute (NOMAFSI), Detech Coffee, and the Vietnamese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (VAAS).

In 2017, the BREEDCAFS project was first introduced to the Son La and Dien Bien provinces to help solve the lack of genetic diversity found in Vietnamese coffee farms.

“The overall objective is to introduce and test new F1 Arabica hybrids in order to see if they are well-adapted to [the] region, and to design agroforestry practices that will create high-yield coffee systems,” says Dr. Luu Ngoc Quyen, Deputy Director at NOMAFSI. “These will be better suited to climate change and hopefully produce high quality.”

According to Quyen, Vietnamese Arabica coffee has been undervalued in the global market, in part due to a lack of widespread knowledge in good farming practices and volatile weather that saw heavy frost destroy 7413 acres of coffee trees in Son La in 2019.

In June 2018, CIRAD and BREEDCAFS imported seedlings of two F1 arabica hybrids, the Starmaya and H1-Centroamericano, and provided them to 12 Vietnamese farmers.

F1 hybrids are the first-generation offspring between two distinctly different plant varieties that have been propagated in varieties.

According to Pierre Marraccini, a Coffee Molecular Physiologist at CIRAD, these F1 Arabica hybrids were developed by CIRAD and ECOM Agroindustrial more than 20 years ago. These varieties were first tested in several Central American countries.

Marraccini has been working on the BREEDCAFS project in Vietnam since 2017, focusing on coffee bean development, quality, and genetics.

These 12 farmers were provided with 400 seedlings each, equating to 4800 seeds in total. These were first planted as “demo plots” and managed by the farmers themselves.

The first harvests occurred from October to December 2020 where the green coffee was evaluated in laboratories by private partners, such as Phuc Sinh, ECOM, and illy. Here, the beans physical, chemical, and cup qualities were studied.

Dao The Anh, Vice-President of VAAS says, “The initial results of the demo plots showed that the new F1 hybrid coffee varieties performed better than the local Catimor plants in terms of yield and quality.”

This outcome promoted positive responses from farmers, private partners, and local governments, resulting in the expansion of the program.

In the summer of 2020 and 2021, BREEDCAFS distributed a further 35,000 seedlings. Today, in total, 40,000 of these two F1 varieties have been distributed to local farmers, with the Catimor variety being used as a control.

“Field trials and phenotyping have been conducted at a range of elevations, [so] we can see which variety is best suited to which condition,” says Clément Rigal of CIRAD.

The program has also launched an accreditation process at a local level to encourage the expansion of new varieties.

At the end of the project, BREEDCAFS says all partners involved will continue working together, with the local support of ECOM Vietnam, to secure accreditation for the F1 hybrids from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).

“Once these varieties are accredited by MARD, farmers will be able to increase both yields and quality, thereby improving their income,” says Anh.

“These varieties will then be propagated and disseminated at [a] large scale. The local government in Son La and Dien Bien are [planning] to regenerate about 22239 acres of old Catimor plants between now and 2025.”

It is hoped that this regeneration will lead Vietnamese farmers to produce higher quality coffee and grow plants that are more resilient to the effects of climate change.

“This means that over time, both domestic and international processing companies will pay more attention to the region, and trade coffee at the premium prices,” Anh says. “This can ultimately benefit the whole region by improving income, being more sustainable, and providing more stable jobs.”

For more information, visit

Send this to a friend