WCR CEO Vern Long outlines global robusta breeding program

vern long

Vern Long from World Coffee Research shares her thoughts with GCR on what to expect for the coffee industry in 2024. 

At World Coffee Research (WCR), we believe that variety innovation —better plants reaching more farmers — will shape the future of coffee. Improved coffee varieties increase productivity for farmers, protect forests, and generate new experiences for consumers. In 2023, our Innovea Global Coffee Breeding Network sent 5000 genetically unique Arabica coffee seeds to national coffee institutes around the world to initiate the next generation of coffee varieties that bolster farmers, delight coffee drinkers, and secure future supply.

Looking ahead to 2024, we’ll make the first crosses in a similar, new global robusta breeding program to ensure that the future of robusta is bright and secure.

In 2023, Michigan State University economists calculated the extent of coffee’s innovation crisis – estimating the investment gap in coffee agricultural research and development is USD  $452 million per year. This gap contributes to the significant uncertainty our industry faces regarding when and where future supply will be disrupted.

To strengthen the industry for years to come, in 2024, WCR’s member companies in conjunction with trade association partners will continue advocacy with consuming country governments to deepen investment in agricultural innovation for coffee. This investment will provide the necessary support to strengthen technical capacity among research institutions in key coffee-producing countries, enhancing agricultural innovation systems to improve productivity for farmers, and reduce risk for our industry.

In the year ahead, my hope is that more companies will join global, industry-wide efforts to safeguard our favourite crop and our ability to enjoy our favourite beverage.

This article was first published in the January/February 2024 edition of Global Coffee Report. Read more HERE.

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