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World Coffee Research’s seed verification program

From the October 2017 issue.

World Coffee Research and NSF International launch the global coffee industry’s first seed and nursery verification program.


When World Coffee Research (WCR) announced its Verified Program with Global Coffee Report last year, it was merely in the development stage. But since then, the global coffee research and development nonprofit has made great strides toward the industry’s very first verification program for coffee seed producers and nurseries.

WCR began work on the program in 2015, but after solidifying plans with third-party certification organisation NSF International earlier this year, WCR officially launched the program in September.

“In the very beginning we didn’t know what the scope was going to be – we just knew it was a good idea,” says WCR Communications Director Hanna Neuschwander, citing the widespread neglect and lack of organisation in the global coffee sector, particularly in seeds.

The disorganisation she speaks of can mean the end for the smallholder coffee farmers who make up the global industry. What’s more, the repercussions flow down the supply chain.

“If the farmers aren’t getting the seeds they think they’re getting, then it compromises the entire supply chain,” she tells Global Coffee Report. “[For instance] it’s very possible the trees they produce aren’t actually disease resistant.”

For a farmer in a pest-prone region, especially with the greater incidence of pests due to global warming, this can mean years wasted while the seeds grow into mature fruit-bearing plants and then lost income when the plants don’t produce berries because they weren’t disease resistant after all.

Unknowingly buying the wrong seeds or plants, which Neuschwander says can be due to a simple mistake or even fraud, is especially detrimental in farm renovation efforts. As advancements are being made in breeding to identify and create varieties that are resistant to pests, frost and more, farmers are renovating entire coffee farms.

That’s why it’s essential for farmers to be buying their thousands of new plants from a verified nursery, she stresses, and ultimately why a verification program like this needs established.


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