Information is power. There are dozens of widely cultivated Arabica coffee varieties around the world, and each is unique in its performance and adaptation to local conditions. This catalog brings urgently needed information to coffee farmers to help them decide which coffee is best for their situation. Agronomic data—expected yield, nutrition requirements, optimal altitude, disease and pest resistance, etc—about the widespread array of existing cultivated Arabica coffee varieties has never been available in an open-access format before.
Because the life of a coffee tree is 20-30 years, the decision producers make about which variety to plant will have consequences until the next generation. If a farmer makes a poor decision on variety, the cumulative loss can be huge. Most coffee farmers—who earn their livelihoods based on the decisions they make about what kind of coffee to plant—don’t typically have access to transparent information about available varieties and how they differ. The lack of a comprehensive, up-to-date coffee catalog puts farmers at risk and perpetuates chronically low yields around the globe.
The purpose of the catalog is to lower the risk associated with coffee farming by providing direct information to farmers and other farm renovation or planting decision-makers to enable them to make an informed choice about what variety is best for their circumstances. Choosing the right type of coffee lowers the risk of disease and pest losses, has consequences for quality in the cup, and will be critical for coffee producers facing rapidly changing climates. Choosing the correct variety—one that meets the farmer’s goals and needs—can significantly reduce losses due to diseases/pests, increase production volume, and/or increase quality.
In Central America, the coffee leaf rust crisis of 2012 affected nearly 600,000 thousand acres of farmland. Nearly 300,000 coffee farmers needed to replant coffee because of it. To make the best possible decision about what kind of coffee to plant on a farm, producers need to know which varieties will be best adapted to their locations and farming approaches.
Meanwhile, most African coffee producing countries produce below 500 kg of green coffee per hectare compared to other countries in the range of 1000 kg to 2500kgs per hectare. This has profound impacts for farmer livelihoods when farmers are paid per pound of cherry. There is widespread need for replanting with young trees, trees resistant to major diseases and pests (including coffee berry disease, coffee leaf rust, antestia bug and stem borer), and with improved varieties. World Coffee Research believes that over 50% of coffee trees in Africa are more than 50 years old. Nearly all of those are old genetic stock and not well suited for the challenges of the 21st century, climate change in particular.