At a national cup tasting event held in El Salvador in June, World Coffee Research (WCR) announced that it will establish a regional headquarters office in the country. El Salvador was hit especially hard by coffee leaf rust, which ravaged Central America starting in 2012. The country was once a leading producer of coffee in the region, but production has fallen dramatically in recent years, in part because of the leaf rust crisis. The country is also in the midst of a three-year drought.
WCR is already conducting multiple research projects in El Salvador and runs a 7 hectare research farm near Santa Ana (shown here), which was donated to it 2015. Its Central American headquarters will co-ordinate World Coffee Research’s projects in the region, including a Central American coffee breeding programme, and programmes to verify that coffee nurseries are producing healthy, genetically pure plants and one to carry out o-farm trials of improved coffee varieties.
The announcement was made at a cupping event highlighting coffee varieties that are resistant to coffee leaf rust. Only 11 per cent of the coffee cultivated in El Salvador is resistant to leaf rust, according the national agricultural research organization, PROCAFE.
The vast majority of the varieties grown in El Salvador are Bourbon, a traditional American variety, and Pacas, a natural Bourbon mutation. Neither can withstand rust at low altitudes where the fungal disease is prevalent.