The fight to save coffee from the threat of climate change is going to require a collaborative global effort. A free exchange of ideas and plant species on an international scale will be imperative in creating new solutions to the oncoming crisis. And today, November 10th, World Coffee Research has announced a new collaboration to hasten these innovations. With Innovea, a global coffee breeding network, WCR is bringing together producing countries “to transform coffee breeding and accelerate the pace of genetic improvement on a global scale.”
Made public today at Costa Rica’s Sintercafe coffee expo, Innovea provides participating countries with “unrestricted access to new genetic materials, training in modern breeding approaches, and shared tools while also connecting researchers across national boundaries to achieve results that would be impossible for programs working in isolation,” per the press release. The goal is that by giving unparalleled levels of access to “high-performing varieties” from Africa, Asia, and the Americas that have never been crossbred with one another before, new, more-robust varieties will be created and ultimately shared on a global scale.
And while Innovea provides greater informational access, WCR states that participating countries will nonetheless be able to maintain their “individual competitive positions.” In practice, per the press release, this means that each country will remain in the “driver’s seat for finished variety development and release.”
“Coffee faces a crisis of innovation that makes the industry’s sustainability, quality, and supply assurance goals impossible to achieve if we stay on the path we are on,” says WCR CEO Dr. Jennifer (Vern) Long. She continues, “Accelerating the development of better varieties is absolutely essential for tackling climate change… We have to do it and we have to start today. If we don’t, in 20 years, farmers will have left coffee for more productive crops and we will be left drinking synthetic coffee.”
Funded by the 200+ coffee companies that are a part of WCR’s membership, Innovea currently consists of nine countries: Costa Rica, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, Peru, Rwanda, Uganda, and the United States, with the expectation that the number will increase as more countries opt to participate.
Per the press release, new varieties borne out of Innovea’s collaborative framework could be released as early as 2033, with other new varieties being released ever three to five years following.
For more information, visit World Coffee Research’s official website.