16 Jul 2019

CropTrust partnership

FELCO is proud to become a partner with the Crop Trust and will support a study to ensure the long-term conservation and availability of the world’s only international coffee tree collection. 

The future of the global coffee industry can be found in Turrialba, Costa Rica, where some 12,000 trees representing 11 coffee species are conserved by the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE).

For the past 70 years, the coffee collection at CATIE has served the coffee industry well, especially in Central America, where all rust-resistant coffee varieties can trace their origins to this ten-hectare field gene bank. Unfortunately, the CATIE coffee collection is at risk, due to aging trees, insufficient funding, and no backup system.

In order to address the many threats that the collection faces, the Crop Trust will lead an independent, in-depth study, with the support of FELCO, that will provide CATIE with a clear understanding of what they need to do to meet and maintain international standards in their coffee tree species conservation efforts.

To celebrate the 70th anniversary of its most iconic pruning shears - the FELCO 2 - which has sold more than 16 million units worldwide. FELCO will release a limited series of the FELCO 2 tool, sales proceeds of this tool will help fund the study.

We believe that the long-term vision of the Crop Trust aligns well with FELCO's focus on quality products known for their longevity,” said Stephan Kopietzki, CCO of FELCO. “Just like the design of FELCO's products, it is crucial that the conservation of crop diversity is made to last. Crop diversity and preservation is essential for all life on Earth and should be treated as such.

The study will provide a comprehensive assessment of the status of CATIE’s coffee diversity collection. It will examine everything from the age of trees conserved, to safety duplication practices, to past and possible future levels of demand for each type by the coffee industry. The results will be used to recommend urgent, costed actions to ensure long-term conservation and availability of the collection.

Just like FELCO 2 iconic model, CATIE’s Coffee Collection celebrates its 70th birthday this year, and we want to help them safeguard this diversity for the next 700,” said Marie Haga, Executive Director of the Crop Trust.

"We are pleased that a company like FELCO is stepping up to support this crucial study, and we hope that others will follow their lead,” she added. “That cup of coffee that millions of us around the world enjoy every day depends on it."

The Big Picture

This in-depth study is the first concrete step to implement the Global Conservation Strategy for Coffee Genetic Resources. Developed by the Crop Trust in collaboration with World Coffee Research (WCR), the Strategy identifies four genebanks as the key custodians of the world’s diversity of coffee. Three of these are located in Africa: in Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia and Madagascar. The fourth is CATIE’s International Coffee Collection. Together, they are referred to as the ‘Origin Collections’.

Unlike maize, rice or wheat, coffee cannot be conserved long-term in seed form. This means so-called field genebanks must maintain multiple living trees of each of the different varieties or species. This is expensive and demands constant care. Unfortunately, many critical coffee genetic resources have already been lost, as trees have died due to lack of adequate maintenance. Many of the coffee trees conserved in the Origins Collections are aging and in need of replanting or specialized attention. Due to being so diverse, they are also in need of a wide variety of cultivation practices (for example, cultivated and wild trees differ in their needs for shade, pruning, fertilizer, etc.).

The Crop Trust / FELCO in-depth study is the first step in what we anticipate will be a global collaboration that will benefit all those involved in the coffee industry – from small-scale producers and roasters to baristas and consumers,” said Jennifer “Vern” Long, CEO of World Coffee Research, a non-profit collaborative research and development program of the global coffee industry.

Without access to coffee diversity, the industry won’t be able to meet the growing global demand for coffee. And ultimately, failing to conserve this diversity over the long-term will have repercussions for the tens of millions of people in Latin America, Africa and Asia who depend on coffee for their livelihoods.

For more information, please contact:

Luis Salazar, Crop Trust, luis.salazar@croptrust.org, +49 171 185 9490
Michèle Charpié, FELCO SA, mcharpie@felco.com, +41 32 858 14 21

Additional information:

The Crop Trust and the Global Conservation Strategy for Coffee Genetic Resources
The Crop Trust is an international organization working to support crop conservation in genebanks, forever. Through investment income generated by its endowment fund, it provides financial support to international, regional and national genebanks, and the world’s backup facility, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. The Crop Trust’s global patron is His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales.www.croptrust.org

CATIE’s International Coffee Collection

Located in Turrialba, Costa Rica, far from coffee’s center of origin, this collection consists of almost 2,000 types of domesticated and wild coffee, maintained in close rows of trees on ten hectares of land. They have been assembled over the decades from Ethiopia, Yemen, Kenya, Tanzania, Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, and all over Central America. Its history goes back to the late 1940s. https://www.catie.ac.cr/en/

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