a golden bean that moves millions of people around the world

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  • On October 1, Costa Rica celebrates National Coffee Day, due to the contribution of this culture to the economic, social and cultural development of the country.

October 1, 2021. Coffee is one of the most economically important agricultural commodities in the world, generating annual revenues of over USD 15 billion for exporting countries and providing a direct source of employment for over 20 million people in the world. world. After water, it is the most consumed drink in the world, nearly 2.5 billion cups of coffee are consumed daily. In Latin America, there are around 14 million people linked to its production chain.

In Central America, coffee production is one of the main agricultural export crops. According to PROMECAFE data, around 5 million people depend directly on coffee production in the region, where almost 11% of the world’s exported coffee is produced. In addition, coffee plantations generate important environmental benefits such as carbon sequestration, clean water production and contributions to biodiversity conservation.

In the case of Costa Rica, the Foreign Trade Promotion Agency (PROCOMER, its Spanish acronym) reported that the coffee sub-sector generated USD 322,539,696 in foreign currency for the country during the coffee year. 2019-2020 (oct-set), i.e. 2.8% more than in the previous period.

It is for all these reasons that we should not neglect National Coffee Day, which will be commemorated on October 1st. “This celebration should be a reason to recognize and effusively thank all those involved in the coffee value chain, producers, processors, exporters and roasters in the country, whose efforts have helped maintain the sustainability of the sector for more than two decades. centuries; as well as to publicize the efforts that institutions, such as CATIE (Center for Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education) and others, are making to strengthen coffee cultivation and ensure that we continue to have coffee in the future, ”said William Solano, Plant Genetics Specialist at CATIE.

CATIE, an international center located in Turrialba, Costa Rica, has had an international coffee collection for over 70 years that houses and preserves coffee plants from different parts of the world with varying characteristics, which have been the basis of production. new varieties of coffee. (F1 hybrids), recognized for their high productivity (between 30 and 50% more than traditional varieties), good cup quality and resistance to diseases such as rust, thus giving rise to what is considered to be coffee from the future .

This collection includes materials imported from more than 35 countries around the world, including Brazil, Guatemala, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Yemen, Sudan, Kenya and Portugal.

F1 hybrids have been developed between CATIE, CIRAD and PROMECAFE, and with the participation of the coffee institutes of Central America; one of them won the Cup of Excellence in Costa Rica in 2016 and for several years they have been in the hands of producers in the region, it is estimated that around 20 million plants have been distributed.

Recently, private companies, such as Felco and San Francisco Bay Coffee, have developed alliances with CATIE to support coffee conservation and research; for example, they donated large tools and equipment for the agronomic management of the international collection, as well as supplies for its maintenance. In addition, they sponsored an in-depth study of the genetic material held in the collection and molecular characterization and genetic improvement work in Costa Rica and Panama, using wild genetic material from the collection.

According to Solano, in the years to come, CATIE will continue to study the performance of materials in its international collection from the point of view of disease tolerance, organoleptic characteristics and especially as a tool in the fight against climate change. “We are convinced that this germplasm represents the future of global coffee cultivation, both for its use as a variety and as broodstock in breeding programs,” said Solano.

In addition, CATIE continues to develop research with hybrids and since 2015 more than 100 crosses have been made between different commercial varieties with other wild material selected from the collection. “F1 hybrids represent an alternative to renew coffee plantations in the region and face challenges such as rust and climate change as they exhibit characteristics that make them superior to traditional coffee varieties,” Solano said.

All this to continue with the commitment to advance in the genetic improvement of the crop, as the best alternative to make the results of research available to coffee producers and to offer them materials of high genetic quality, of production. high and excellent cup quality.

About the coffee market and properties

The quality of coffee is the addition of several factors, some of them can be changed by human beings, such as handling, harvesting time, drying process, standing time, roasting, among others . But there are also other very important factors in obtaining quality coffee; it is about the genetics of the variety and the environment in which the plants grow.

Specialty coffee growers and new generations of coffee drinkers are looking for a drink that has unique organoleptic characteristics, exotic flavors and aromas that have never been discovered before.

In CATIE’s international coffee collection, there are over 800 wild accessions and also a few ‘legacy’ varieties that currently exhibit outstanding agronomic characteristics of disease tolerance, but most importantly excellent cup quality with unique fruity and fruity flavors. .

Regarding its benefits, the New York Times in its June 2021 publication, The Health Benefits of Coffee, reports that the latest scientific studies on the effects of coffee and caffeine have been linked to growth inhibition. cancer cells and reduced risk of type 2 diabetes; while its antioxidants have anti-inflammatory effects that can counter heart disease and cancer.

More information:

Guillaume Solano
Plant genetic resources researcher
Coffee and cocoa agroforestry and plant breeding unit
CATIE
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Written by:

Karla Salazar Leiva
Communicator
Information and Communication Technologies
CATIE
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