- In the framework of the celebration of World Coffee Day, CATIE inaugurates an area in its La Montaña farm as the new space that will safeguard the genetic resources of coffee, reaffirming the commitment to long-term preservation for the benefit of world coffee growing.
September 30, 2022. For 73 years, CATIE (Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center) has guarded the most diverse international collection of Coffea arabica available to any user; the fourth largest in the world; the second largest in Latin America and, according to the Global Strategy for the Conservation of Coffee Genetic Resources, it is one of the four collections that, together with the Origin collections in Africa, safeguard the widest diversity of coffee on the planet.
Thanks to the important diversity preserved in CATIE's collection, since the nineties the Center has been working on genetic improvement for the development of hybrids to broaden the genetic base of coffee growing and offer more tolerant alternatives to rust and other diseases, high productivity, greater resilience to climate change and better cup quality, thus strengthening the livelihoods of thousands of families in the Latin American region.
However, a recent diagnostic study by conservation expert Ehsan Dulloo revealed that approximately 80% of the accessions available in the collection are threatened due to the few preserved specimens of each one, which could lead to their extinction.
In view of the above, by 2021, with the support of the Crop Trust International Treaty sobre los recursos genéticos de la Organización para la Agricultura y la Alimentación (TIRFAA de la FAO), el CATIE inició una estrategia de racionalización y preservación a largo plazo de los recursos genéticos del café que consiste en cuatro fases; la primera será trasladar, hacia un área con un suelo más apto para el cultivo, un total de 168 accesiones identificadas como aquellas de mayor riesgo de pérdida; la segunda relocalizar la colección internacional de café en su totalidad; la tercera llevar a cabo un duplicado en biopreservación; y la cuarta consistirá en poner a disposición de todo el público la información adquirida. Todo este proceso sistemático se espera completar en aproximadamente seis años.
"CATIE's coffee collection is very important to the multilateral system of agricultural genetic resources exchange promoted by the International Treaty. Efforts to rescue and efficiently utilize these globally important collections must be redoubled," said Kent Nnadozie, Secretary of the International Treaty.
Today, within the framework of World Coffee Day, through a symbolic planting by the director general of CATIE, Muhammad Ibrahim, the new site was officially inaugurated, reiterating the commitment to the preservation of world coffee growing and the effort made year after year to benefit those who produce coffee, as well as those who love to enjoy a cup of coffee every day.
"This collection is more than 70 years old and CATIE, together with partners such as the Crop Trust and the International Treaty, has worked to generate knowledge and provide solutions to the problems faced by the coffee sector due to climate change. The genetic diversity safeguarded here is key to the search for technological innovations and new varieties that will benefit producer families," said Ibrahim.
William Solano, researcher of Coffee and Cocoa Agroforestry and Plant Breeding Unit of CATIE, described the beginning of this reestablishment as a historic event; "we are taking a step forward in the process of reaching the international conservation standard, which would allow us to perpetuate these genetic resources for future generations," he said.
At the same time, the opportunity was taken to invite and motivate different national and international entities to cooperate and work together for the protection of one of the most important international coffee collections in terms of genetic diversity for the sustainability of the coffee industry and the constant maintenance that CATIE seeks to safeguard its collection for the benefit of humanity and biodiversity.
"The Crop Trust and the International Treaty support the transfer of the collection, and we hope that CATIE will continue to fulfill the great commitment it has made 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".
William Solano, Researcher, Coffee and Cocoa Agroforestry and Plant Breeding Unit, email@example.com
Dannia Gamboa Solís, Communications Assistant, Information Technology and Communication, firstname.lastname@example.org
SaradaKrishnan, Co-author of the Global Coffee Strategy, and Program Manager, Science Unit, email@example.com
Luis Salazar, Communications Manager, External Relations Unit firstname.lastname@example.org
The International Treaty on Genetic Resources of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (ITPGRFA)
Álvaro Toledo, undersecretary, email@example.com
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