In 2019, CATIE celebrated the anniversary of the cocoa (75 years) and coffee (70 years) collections, which are recognized worldwide for the wide genetic diversity they preserve, as they are essential in ensuring the future of both crops. The anniversary event took place at CATIE’s headquarters and brought together important players in the cocoa and coffee sectors. It also featured presentations by experts who shared the history and importance of the collections for research and the dissemination of genetic resources, as well as the success story of the Geisha variety of coffee in Panama.
In addition, as part of the Global Strategy for the Conservation of Coffee Genetic Resources, a study by the Crop Trust was conducted to assess the current status of the collection and propose actions to ensure its conservation and long-term availability.
In this regard, new initiatives and financial support were negotiated in 2019 to preserve both collections. In the case of the International Coffee Collection, support was provided by several institutions such as the Costa Rican Coffee Institute (ICAFE), San Francisco Bay Coffee, and the Central American Program for Integrated Coffee Rust Management (PROCAGICA). For its part, the project Maximizing Coffee and Cocoa Opportunities in the Americas (MOCCA) supported the general maintenance of the plantations of the International Cocoa Collection for the next three years.
CATIE is also part of the Cacaonet Task Force initiative, which supports the management of cocoa collections worldwide. Thanks to this initiative the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) will provide support to CATIE and Trinidad’s collections.
There is a growing interest among coffee companies for certain varieties that are present in CATIE’s International Coffee Collection. These varieties have stood out in international competitions due to characteristics that make them attractive for new exclusive coffee markets: ET47, Geisha, Java, Laurina, Mibirizi, Mokka, Rume Sudan, SL-28, SL-34 and Wush wush. In 2019, a 2-hectare seed garden was created on CATIE’s land using materials from all of these varieties with the aim of increasing seed production in the short term in order to meet the growing demand for these promising materials
In 2019, CATIE made available to the region about 115,951 coffee plants, including F1 hybrids with exceptional characteristics of productivity, resistance to pests and diseases, as well as other promising varieties. Of the total number of plants distributed 84,382 were produced by an innovative method of rooting cuttings at CATIE’s Forest Seed Bank (BSF) and 31,569 by the in vitro process called somatic embryogenesis, developed at the Center’s Biotechnology Laboratory. This represents the highest number of plants produced in a year to date at the laboratory.
In search of better cocoa clone alternatives for distribution, the Biotechnology Laboratory carried out several investigations for the development of embryos. As a result, two embryos in particular (Jiffy pellets and Ellepots) showed special characteristics (small, light and biodegradable) that offer great possibilities for the production of cocoa clones in a faster, more efficient and environmentally friendly way.
CATIE researchers and their partners continue their studies and evaluations for genetic improvement. More than 50 F1 coffee hybrids are being evaluated and a new set of nine improved cocoa clones will soon be released.
In addition, an agreement was signed with the Mexican biotechnology company Global Nature Technology to supply coffee and cocoa germplasm for its multiplication and distribution in Mexico and other countries in the region. The company will set up its laboratories on CATIE’s land, which represents the beginning of a new phase in attracting high-tech companies to the campus.
CATIE’s agroforestry coffee trials turned 19 years old in 2019. This trials continue to generate research results with recommendations for producers in the region. The results of all these investigations currently serve and will serve to guide the regional coffee sector towards better agroforestry production strategies, as well as increasing yields and the provision of ecosystem services.
In the cocoa research field, efforts were focused on generating proposals for innovations and their further application in development projects. The team worked on topics related to the use of technologies such as drones and shadow-simulation software to make agroforestry diagnoses of cacao crops. The results support decision-making processes to improve the design and management of cocoa plantations as well as combining the Schools of Field (ECA) with virtual teaching (digital animation, monitoring of activities and goals with cell phones). These technologies are already being developed in a cocoa project in Honduras (led by Heifer) and in the short term they will be used in other agroforestry projects.
Supported by the Climate Technology Center and Network (CTCN), the Government of Belize is leading the development of the National Agroforestry Policy, as part of the country’s actions to address climate change mitigation and adaptation.
The participatory research project for the renewal of cocoa plantations in eight Latin American countries (financed by the Korean Cooperation for Food and Agriculture in Latin America – KoLFACI) continued in 2019. This project laid the foundations for the establishment of a 4-hectare area for applied agronomic and agroforestry research with cocoa on CATIE’s La Montaña farm, in which medium- to long-term trials will be carried out to generate specific technological packages (fertilization, integrated pest management, diversification) to offer to the region’s cocoa farmers.
Together with PROCAGICA, 200 plots of land were established in four Central American countries for participatory experimentation and validation of innovative practices for integrated management of coffee as well as pest and disease control.
In addition, a documentation process of the role of mixed plantations in commercial estoration-reforestation as an alternative for the production of wood-based products was carried out under the framework of the Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) program of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).
The Trees on Farms project represents another successful effort in Agroforestry. It has helped the Honduran government on reporting on biodiversity conservation indicators and improving livelihoods through the use of trees in the country’s agricultural landscapes. The project is funded by the International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU), led by the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) in which the consortium of institutions includes CATIE in Honduras, CIRAD-CIFOR in Indonesia, Gottingen University, Hanover University and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
CATIE has supported the livestock sector and the governments of Honduras, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Cuba and Panama in the design of public policies through technical inputs and participation in governance spaces with the aim of achieving sustainable livestock production. In the case of Costa Rica support was provided for the implementation of the Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMA). In Panama, Guatemala and Cuba contributions were directed towards the design of a national sustainable livestock strategy. The greatest achievement was obtained in Honduras, where, with support from the NAMA Facility and in coordination with the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock and the Ministry of Environment, the banking and private (industry) sectors, academia and oñther trade unions, will design a national program to transform the livestock sector towards a low-carbon economy.
Moreover, the management of mechanisms to access public finances through a green credit in Honduras was made possible during 2019 through a proposal for a differentiated financial mechanism directed towards the livestock sector. At the same time, other actions were carried out in this country for the generation of an emissions baseline for the development of the livestock NAMA, through the development and monitoring of biodiversity and carbon methodologies, as well as sustainability indicators based on the principles and standards of the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) for livestock. In addition, a strategy was designed with the private sector and associated unions to improve meat and milk value chains. The strategy will make possible to identify niche markets for sustainable livestock products. All these actions were carried out through the Productive Landscapes project, which is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) through the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and in coordination with the Honduran Ministry of the Environment.
In 2019, CATIE worked jointly with the Livestock Belize project, which is financed by the Multilateral Investment Fund and under theadministration of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB-MIF). Unger the framework of this project, CATIE was responsible of the characterization of 10 model farms located in the Cayo and Orange Walk districts of Belize as well as the identification of silvopastoral options for the improvement of climate change resilience in these farms. These actions serve as a basis for learning processes for technicians from the Belize Livestock Producers Association (BLPA) and the Belize Ministry of Agriculture, as well as BLPA producer partners.
In Mexico, CATIE worked in the territories of Jalisco, Campeche and Chiapas throughthe project Biodiversity and Sustainable Agroforestry Livestock Landscapes, known as BioPaSOS. By coordinating with the Ministries of Agriculture and Environment, this project promotes sustainable livestock among more than 1200 producers who were trained to establish silvopastoral systems and implement best livestock practices using the Field Schools (ECA) methodology. ECA was adapted to each of the three territories: ECA was adapted to each of the three territories: in Jalisco,for example, it will be implemented in the territories of the Intermunicipal Environmental Board for the Integrated Management of the Lower Ayuquila River Basin (JIRA) and the Intermunicipal Environmental Board of the South Coast (JICOSUR), in coordination with the Secretariat of Agriculture and Rural Development (SADER). SADER recently decided to adopt ECA methodology in the training of livestock producers in the remaining three intermunicipal boards of the state, which is a great achievement of CATIE in terms of policy advocacy and project impact.
In the framework of the Sustainable Futures project for the Costa Rican dairy sector: Optimization of Environmental and Economic Results (SUSCORIDA) a study was conducted to determine future sustainable scenarios for food production in the tropics, using the Costa Rican dairy sector as a pilot scenario. The study was implemented by CATIE in conjunction with Bangor University with support from the Global Challenge Research Fund Foundation Award (GCRF), Rothamsted Research and funded by the Biological and Biotechnology Research Council (BBSRC) of the United Kingdom. The study focused on pasture quality, methane and nitrous oxide emissions in tropical systems, and the measurement of ammonia emissions and nitrate and phosphate infiltration. The results of the project showed that cow feces deposited on the pasture when animals leave the paddocks, generate ammonia emissions of about 10 g/ha/h, which decreases as the hours go by to emissions of 2 g/ha/h at the time of fertilization.
Towards the exploration of new businesses, the distribution of a CATIE-specialty coffee was initiated, using the main coffee hybrids as a base. We also worked on the initiative to give added value to the fruits of CATIE’s Botanical Garden through the registration of the CABIRIA brand.
CATIE-Specialty Coffee is a venture that began in 2019 to market specialty coffees from materials produced by the Coffee Breeding Program and some outstanding varieties from CATIE’s International Coffee Collection. In the introduction stage, work was carried out with two of the F1 coffee hybrids (Centroamericano and Esperanza) and in 2020 the offer will be increased with four varieties: SL 28, Geisha, ET-47 and Milenio. The process of registering the brand and sanitary permit for the products is already underway.
Productos CABIRIA began in 2019 as a promising initiative of the Collections and Botanical Garden for the development of innovative food products based on tropical fruits, preserved in CATIE’s collections since 1944. The potential in this field is extensive, and the objective is to develop an agribusiness with the potential to scale-up for agroindustry and export, through linkages between the Botanical Garden and strategic partners, so that CABIRIA products make a difference.
The products have shown excellent acceptance and they represent an opportunity for business after more than a year of research. Work is also underway to develop substitutes for animal-based meat, using a coffee by-product. Productos Cabiria has the permission of the Ministry of Health and the municipal patent and the registration of the brand was submitted with approval expected in 2020.
By strengthening its strategic alliances, CATIE has been able to enhance its actions with the support of multiple local, national and international partners. By strengthening its strategic alliances, CATIE has been able to enhance its actions with the support of multiple local, national and international partners. The following highlights those with which various initiatives were developed in 2019, with the aim of achieving sustainable and inclusive development:
National or local governments
Research centers and foundations
The 10 most relevant publications of 2019 on agriculture, agroforestry and livestock are presented below:
Through the collaboration between the Autonomous University of Chiapas (UNACH) and the BioPaSOS project, low-cost biodigesters were designed using locally available inputs as a strategy to reduce methane emissions on cattle ranches.
One such biodigester was implemented on a producer’s ranch. Luis Fernando Molina, professor at UNACH, said that the implementation of this biodigester allow us to know exactly how this best practice contributes to greenhouse gases (GHG) mitigation on cattle ranches. In addition, it will provide information on how much firewood is no longer needed in the producer’s home once the gas produced and stored in the biodigester is being used.
“Through the Field Schools, the project has taught us about best livestock practices. It has given us tools to realize how much money we have been throwing away and how much we have contaminated. Now, on our cattle ranch we are putting into practice what they teach us and we are seeing better results in production and saving money”.