World Coffee Research (WCR) launched its strategy for 2021-2025 in 2020. It began with a discussion of partners and colleagues from the value stream and ended up responding to the threat most involved persons were afraid of - the decrease of diversity between coffee varieties. This problem can be solved by increasing focus on innovations for coffee agriculture.
WCR's top priority right now is managing the development of proper technologies and actionable knowledge along with creating a global network for advancing innovation. Another important course of research that has remained the same since WCR's foundation is, of course, a genetic improvement that can increase coffee plant's quality and resilience to climate changes and as a result, raise profitability for farmers. The company's improvement strategy also extends to the systems that can provide farmers with upgraded varieties, from breeding through field trials to nurseries and seed value chains.
The full strategy can be read here.
Origin diversity is a centerpiece of WCR's 2021-2025 global strategy. The fewer countries produce coffee, the more hard to find the exclusive flavors which clients want and the whole coffee business relies on. It creates a huge risk for consistency in coffee supplies. It also can lead to monopolization of the industry because most of the benefits from agricultural productivity and quality gains concentrate in the hands of several farmers and reduce these benefits for other countries. More equal distribution of efforts to accelerate agricultural innovation across multiple origins will secure reliable supplies of high-quality coffee and benefit coffee farmers and businesses and coffee nations while increasing consumer engagement.
Diversity provides resilience. That's equally true for agricultural systems, genetics, and global economics. The number of risks for a tree crop like coffee today as high as it was never before. The coffee planted today will face a wide amount of climate-related problems in the next thirty years, and so will farmers. But coffee agriculture can actually make a huge contribution to the current climate mitigation goals. All it takes is to build resilience and encourage innovations to succeed in our climate goals for the 21st century.
Origin diversity can be achieved by an agricultural R&D program with three objectives related to each other:
- Increase the productivity of climate-resilient coffee production to rise farmer profitability, one of the most important aspects of farmer economic sustainability;
- Enhance the quality of coffee trees for various market segments (from commercial to premium to specialty, both arabica and robusta included);
- Mitigate the risk of supply shortage by improving the competitiveness of selected countries from the Americas, East Africa and Asia and direct future innovations towards climate goals.
Reliable supplies of coffee are crucial for the whole coffee industry and a strong industry is required to support the livelihoods of coffee farmers. Today's agricultural innovations must be beneficial for both farmers and industry needs. The WCR's 2021-2025 strategy answers these needs by setting the bridge between the global industry market and national research programs. This way the coffee industry can implement tools and approaches that already worked for other crops, such as user-led design, that can provide value both for global industry and farmers.
WCR will support the efforts of the countries to design and deliver important agricultural innovations with advocacy, leverage, and direct research. By doing so WCR will help those countries to address the possible problem of future supplies shortage and improve profitability for coffee farmers.