World Coffee Research joins MOCCA Project in South America
World Coffee Research (WCR) is bringing its expertise in coffee agricultural R&D to the Maximizing Opportunities in Coffee and Cacao in the Americas (MOCCA) Project.
MOCCA is a five-year, $36.4 million initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to build the agricultural sectors of coffee and cacao in five countries – El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras and Peru. The project’s lead implementation partner is international nonprofit TechnoServe.
“This is the perfect project for WCR,” says Dr. Kraig Kraft, WCR’s global programs director. “It provides us the resources to deepen our engagement in Central America and Peru. In this project, we will establish 140 more Global Coffee Monitoring Program plots in farmers’ fields; we will work with Promecafe and the respective national coffee institutes to train breeders on how to use new molecular breeding tools; we will develop a coffee nursery professionalisation tool to help get the best varieties out to farmers. It is an ambitious project, but we are assembling a great team, and we are looking forward to getting started.”
“When WCR began in 2012, Central America was our main focus,” says WCR’s CEO Tim Schilling, “and so it’s nice to be able to work alongside TechnoServe on such a technical project in this region. We’re thrilled to provide the research element of this partnership.”
As part of the project, WCR will add another 140 Global Coffee Monitoring Program plots in the five focus countries. This is a network of small, on-farm demonstration trials where WCR works directly with farmers to test which combinations of varieties and farm practices lead to the highest gains in profitability for the farmer.
Through the MOCCA project, WCR will also collaborate with the region’s top coffee research institutions to establish a coffee breeding hub in each region, to support the creation of a new generation of “high powered” F1 hybrids, Arabustas, and other new varieties for farmers.
The MOCCA project will also support the emergence of a professionalised nursery sector. World Coffee Research and TechnoServe aim to identify and train 50 seed producing farms, nurseries and clonal gardens to produce healthy and genetically pure coffee seeds and seedlings, and to meet coffee’s only plant-focused quality standard – WCR Verified.
One of the most important pillars of the MOCCA Project is strengthening communication and collaboration between the national and regional coffee platforms. WCR will host and participate in events and seminars bringing together researchers from each of the collaborating member organizations of Promecafe to share knowledge and build local capacity.