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What is the gene bank of coffee?

What is the gene bank of coffee?

Gene banks of coffee preserve genetic diversity and also provide researchers and breeders with the material for breeding new varieties. Support for the work of gene banks is the main goal of Global Conservation Strategy for Coffee, the partner program of World Coffee Research and the Global Crop Diversity Trust.

The production of coffee employs about 125 million people in more than 70 countries. Manufacturers are forced to deal with climate change, reducing the yield of coffee trees and the quality of coffee. This leads to problems with fever, drought and epidemics. In 2016, the Climate Institute issued a report stating that climate change by the year 2050 will halve the amount of land suitable for growing coffee.

Another problem is the very narrow genetic diversity of Arabica, around which the whole industry of coffee is built. A well-established tradition of planting Arabica with good yield and quality indicators has led to the fact that this variety in different countries of the world is subject to the same negative effects.

How do gene banks work? They contain seeds of a large number of varieties, both the ones cultivated at present, and those that are no longer grown. Banks retain and catalogue these varieties to make them available to people involved in the industry. Breeders then cross one species with others to get new plants that are stable, for example, to sudden climate changes or infections. Next, there are farmers who can request seed samples for their plantations.

One of the largest and most famous gene banks of coffee is in the CATIE's Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Centre in Costa Rica. The bank stores samples of about 2000 varieties of coffee.

Contain the gene banks of coffee is very expensive. The gene bank of coffee is an endless series of young seedlings however many of the most important gene banks of coffee are underfunded. As a result, they lose trees due to lack of care, and therefore, valuable genetic material.

Even CATIE, despite its popularity, still does not have enough money to fully support all the facilities. In even more difficult conditions are other banks, for example, Kianjavato Coffee Research Station in Madagascar.

As part of the Global Conservation Strategy for Coffee, there is the task of creating an international database. The creation of the base is carried out by a research team, based in Denver, who visited gene banks in Madagascar, Kenya, Ethiopia, Costa Rica, Colombia, Brazil and the Republic of Cote d'Ivoire, and on the results of field work issued a document on cooperation of banks.

A good practical example of why gene banks are needed is the history of the known variety of the geshe / geisha, so beloved by the coffee community. Found in Ethiopia and later found in CATIE, this species was brought to Panama and distributed on coffee farms in the Boquete region. In 1997, the farm Esmeralda bought the Peterson at a time when it was a farm with just good coffee. In the early 2000s, the farm had an epidemic of fungus, and it was found that one of the species to it is fairly stable. This variety was gesha, and although its yield and quality left much to be desired, Daniel Peterson decided to plant these trees higher than the rest, at an altitude of 1600 meters. The farmer believed that in this way he would slow the ripening of berries for greater sweetness and acidity. The rest you know.


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