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Big coffee companies cooperate with CIRAD to cut pesticide use in coffee planting

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The Ecoffee R&D Initiative is being coordinated by the innovating French tropical agricultural research agency called CIRAD with the help of the Agropolis Foundation.

An association of big US and European roasting companies participating in this initiative includes Nestlé, Starbucks, Illycaffè, Lavazza Group, Jacobs Douwe Egberts, Tchibo and Paulig. There is also Ecom, Mercon and Olam - large green coffee roasters that also joined the initiative. 

Some agricultural research institutions also joining Ecoffee are the Brazilian Universidade Federal de Viçosa, the NicaFrance Foundation focused on Nicaragua and the Vietnam Western Highlands Agriculture & Forestry Science Institute.

The long-term goal of these organizations is to get rid of pesticide usage — including herbicides, fungicides and insecticides — in the coffee farming industry. 

In their announcement of the initiative, CIRAD said that Ecoffee's main goal is to aid the environment, biodiversity and people involved in coffee farming. 

Right now the Ecoffee timeline and governance are "still in development", but in general they plan to engage industry actors and researchers to perform a course of baseline studies that can be used as an audit of pesticide usage in today's coffee farming industry. Four "representative" countries were chosen to perform such researches: Mexico, Vietnam, Nicaragua and Brazil.

As CIRAD announced on the product launch, "We expect significant results from this new research and hope that it shortly became a new standard for the whole coffee sector." 

CIRAD also plans to create an international network of farms and researchers to study non-pesticide farming concepts. They will cooperate with large sustainability platforms and create organized workshops to engage leading experts in finding current and potential pesticide-reducing solutions.