Knowledge for Development

Related developments

Destructive pest threatens PNG's coffee crop

Tom Kukhang from Papua-New-Guinea's (PNG) Coffee Industry Corporation and coffee growers on the island fear that a berry borer pest could have a devastating impact on the industry. The pest is reportedly just 20 kilometres from PNG's border with Indonesia and could largely destroy PNG’s coffee crop. The nation's quarantine organisation NAQIA and the Coffee Industry Corporation are currently working together to provide surveillance in border areas and major ports.   (Radio Australia, 30/05/2014)


Uganda's coffee sector works towards a climate resilient value chain

The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD, Canada), along with Uganda's Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives (MoTIC), Makerere University (MAK), and the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) worked together during a six-month period in 2013 to provide a platform for dialogue on climate risk management among actors along the coffee value chain. The study found that climate hazards such as droughts, floods and changing rainfall patterns already negatively affect all actors along the coffee value chain, but in different ways and to different extents. Results also showed that coffee farmers and processors generally tend to be more vulnerable to climate hazards than traders, middlemen and exporters, due to their limited diversification, weak organisational capacities and the unfavourable policy environment. As a result of this pilot initiative, for the first time in Uganda, climate risks were integrated into trade-related issues at the ministerial level. A related briefing note has been published 'Promoting an Integrated Approach to Climate Adaptation: Lessons from the coffee value chain in Uganda'.   (IISD, 18/03/2014)


A comprehensive study has confirmed the genetic structure of African coffee genotypes

The species Coffea canephora, which produces Robusta coffee, has substantial genetic diversity, which could almost certainly be better exploited in breeding programmes if it were characterized better. A team from CIRAD recently analysed that diversity using microsatellite markers. This was the first truly comprehensive genetic study of the species. It confirmed the existence of diversity groups, analysed the relations between them and determined the genetic structure of the species, particularly the role played by refuge zones during the glacial period of 25,000 years ago and the effect of subsequent human interventions. The analysis covered almost 300 coffee genotypes from the Guineo-Congolese region. The results are crucial for the management and use of genetic resource collections, and should serve the eventual development of adapted coffee crop.     (CIRAD, 15/01/2014) 


An advanced technique guaranteeing millions of true-to-type coffee plantlets

Researchers from CIRAD and its partner, Ecom Agroindustrial, have mastered ‘cell suspension’, a cutting edge propagation technique for Coffea arabica. This technique of propagating in vitro plantlets through somatic embryogenesis (a process where a plant or embryo is derived from a single somatic cell or group of somatic cells) will make it possible to produce the millions of coffee plantlets required to meet market demand for high-quality selected varieties. This pioneering work opens up new possibilities for the propagation of plants and varieties on an industrial scale. It will also mean considerably higher income levels for many producers and the rapid replacement of plants affected by disease.   (CIRAD, 10/2013)


Central America’s small coffee plantations threatened by a plant disease

Heavier rainfall in Central America has fostered severe epidemics of the Coffee Leaf Rust pathogen and future adaptation of the cash crop was discussed at the fifth Symposium of the Specialty Coffee Association of America. World Coffee Research will conduct research on coffee genetics and institute multi-country variety trials to develop pest resistant lines from wild coffea species. Coffee has a complex genome and long time to reproductive maturity: non-transgenic solutions (preferred by specialty coffee consumers) to the rust issue may only reach farmers in 15 years. Near-term solutions include spraying safe fungicides and practicing mode-of-action rotation to limit pest resistance.  (Applied Mythology Blog, 16/04/2013)


Coffee leaf rust is spreading through the Americas

This research demonstrates the importance of nutritional factors, fruit loads, fertilization and soil quality in mitigating the impacts and spread of the fungus, and how climate change influences epidemics., 15/03/2013)


A sustainable water solution for coffee processing in Ethiopia

A mill processing fresh coffee 'cherries' from thousands of local farmers in Ethiopia is using a low-cost, sustainable approach - vetiver grass wetlands - to treat the large amount of wastewater it produces when washing the beans. The deep roots of the vetiver grass can suck up the water, slowing down flow and infiltration into the soil. The remaining effluent, if any, is stored in a small pond at the bottom of the wetland to evaporate. In designing the system, TechnoServe worked with local agricultural researchers to understand how vetiver has been used elsewhere in the world for treating organic waste, and then adapt it to coffee wet mills in Ethiopia. TechnoServe has helped install more than 40 such wetlands at wet mills throughout East Africa. (next billion, 22/03/2013) 


Biofertilisers help fight coffee rust disease in Honduras

Small-scale coffee producers from Honduras' La Labor Ecological Coffee Cooperative (COCAFELOL), have reported that using biofertiliser generated through a biodigester system implemented by SNV has reduced the impact of the coffee rust disease on their trees. Currently, COCAFELOL and SNV, with funding from ECPA (Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas), are developing a process to use the biogas produced by the biodigester system to generate electricity. The electricity produced will be used for various coffee processing activities.   (SNV, 2012)


Controlling the coffee berry borer using integrated pest management

The ‘Plantwise’ initiative, led by CAB International and its partners, has updated its website blog with a post on integrated pest management techniques (developed in Colombia) being established in Papua New Guinea to control the coffee berry borer pest (Hypothenemus hampei, a tiny beetle). Coffee berry borer can potentially be successfully managed using an integrated approach with minimal input of broad spectrum insecticides, providing there is some initial investment for added labour costs involved with monitoring and harvesting the crop.The challenge now is to demonstrate to farmers and land managers how the IPM techniques work and to continue improving the techniques. The initial study, conducted in Colombia, which the PNG project follows, produced the paper (open access) ‘Implementing an Integrated Pest Management Program for Coffee Berry Borer in a Specialty Coffee Plantation in Colombia’. The blog post also lists several other relevant links to IPM and coffee.(CABI Plantwise, 6/11/2012) paper:


Banana-coffee intercrop system most beneficial

Ongoing research by the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Kampala, Uganda, in collaboration with other CGIAR centres (CIAT, ICRAF, and CIFOR), has attempted to evaluate the benefits of different types of systems, including co-benefits for climate change adaptation and mitigation and implications for pest and disease incidence. Researchers have found that banana-coffee intercrop systems can be beneficial for farmers because they leave the yield of the coffee crop virtually untouched, while providing more food for their personal use. Essentially, by combining the two crops farmers are greatly increasing the total yield value of a single plot of land, even if the yield for individual crops doesn’t change much.(CCAFS, 9/7/2012)


Light roasted coffee found to contain higher amount of antioxidants

In his research titled Influence of Roasting on the Phenolic Content and Antioxidant Activity of the Philippine Coffee, Dr. Ruel M. Mojica (of Cavite State University, Philippines) found that degrees of roasting have significant effects on the antioxidant activity of both Coffea robusta and C. liberica samples. Findings here show that light roasted coffee gives the highest phenolic content and antioxidant activity among coffee samples roasted to varying degrees. In his report, roasted beans generally contain less polyphenols than green beans (as chlorogenic acid present in green coffee is degraded upon roasting). The research found that "considerable increase" in phenolic content occurred in light roast samples and began to decrease in medium roast to very dark roast samples (as was the antioxidant activities with an increase in the degree of roast).In a time of changing eating habits, food products containing antioxidants are popular as their health benefits are scientifically proven.This research by Dr. Mojica is featured in the BAR Chronicle (, the official monthly publication of the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) of the Department of Agriculture of the Philippines.


Coffee threatened by beetles in a warming world

Until recently, the coffee berry borer, a beetle that devastates coffee plants, was confined to just a few regions in Central Africa. But since the 1980s, the beetle has gradually spread to every coffee-growing region except Hawaii, Nepal, and Papua New Guinea. Juliana Jaramillo, a biologist at ICIPE, Nairobi, Kenya, suspects temperature increases are to blame. She and her collaborators recently identified the temperature range in which the beetle can survive. They found that the average minimum temperature the borer requires to reproduce is about 68 degrees F. In their research, Jaramillo and her collaborators found that for every 1.8 degrees F increase in temperature, the coffee berry borer became 8.5 per cent more infectious on average. A follow up study, published this year in the Journal of Economic Entomology, found that higher temperatures also caused the female beetles to travel from berry to berry earlier. Coffee farmers need new strategies to combat threats such as the coffee berry borer. (Source: The Guardian, 27 August 2010)


New coffee variety offers bright future to Kenya growers

Production of Kenya's smallholder Arabica coffee is set to receive a boost with the launch of a new coffee variety that is resistant to the coffee berry disease (CBD) and coffee rust. Known as 'Batian', the new variety has been developed by the Coffee Research Foundation (CRF) and is reported to reduce production costs by 30 per cent. The new variety yields up to five tonnes per hectare by the fourth year, when production is at its peak. (Source: New Agriculturist, September 2010)


Alert over coffee pest outbreak in Kenya

Coffee farmers should brace themselves for an outbreak of one of the crop’s most dreaded pests — the coffee berry borer. The pest, also known as Ferrari or Broca, say scientists at the Coffee Research Foundation in Nairobi, has been known to cause heavy infestation of up 96 per cent with serious commercial losses mainly in lower altitude areas. According to an international study (covering Kenya, Colombia, Tanzania and Ethiopia) published on Monday in the Public Science Library by researchers from Germany, the US and the Nairobi-based ICIPE (International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology), the coffee berry borer will be able to survive and inflict damage to coffee on higher grounds due to the effects of climate change. To mitigate the predicted coffee loses to the beetle, the ICIPE scientists are calling on farmers to go back to the old ways — plant the crop under tree cover. They suggest that producing coffee under shade provides favourable conditions for the Ferrari’s predators, hence reducing pest populations.