USDA-ARS joins WCR Global Coffee Breeding Network

Fairtrade Foundation

The United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) has joined the Innovea Global Coffee Breeding Network coordinated by World Coffee Research (WCR). This will offer the Agency broader opportunities to develop more climate resilient coffee varieties with resistance to pests and diseases.

Kona coffee, one of Hawaii’s most valuable agricultural crops, has come under increasing threats from new diseases and pests, especially since 2020 when coffee leaf rust was found on Maui.

ARS’ Daniel K. Inouye U.S. Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center (PBARC) has a strong program to develop ways for Hawaii’s coffee growers to deal with these issues either by changing management protocols or by breeding varieties that have better genetic resistance.

“By joining Innovea, we’ll have a partnership with coffee growing countries around the world that will expand our ability to add pest and disease resistance and greater climate resilience to the coffee crop and supporting United States growers. And it will aid coffee production around the world,” says PBARC Center Director Marisa Wall.

“Participating in Innovea will also help us prepare for future threats. We will be receiving access to more than 300 samples or evaluations of coffee in diverse growing regions not currently in our research collection.”

The Innovea network’s goal is to bring together collaborating countries to transform coffee breeding and accelerate the pace of genetic improvement to the crop’s yield, quality, climate resilience, and resistance to pests and diseases. Nine countries have joined the network so far, including Costa Rica, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, Peru, Rwanda, Uganda and now ARS in the United States.

Innovea is sponsored by the more than 200 coffee companies worldwide that comprise WCR’s membership base.

“By funding Innovea, leading coffee companies in the United States and beyond have united to drive agricultural solutions to urgently secure a diverse and sustainable supply of coffee today and for generations to come,” says WCR CEO Jennifer ‘Vern’ Long.

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