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World Coffee Research is to play a leading role in a five-year, US$36.4 million initiative to help coffee and cocoa farmers in Latin America.

The Maximizing Opportunities in Coffee and Cacao in the Americas (MOCCA) project aims to help farmers in El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras and Peru. World Coffee Research is to bring its expertise in coffee R&D to the project.

“This is the perfect project for WCR,” said Dr Kraig Kraft, WCR’s Global Programmes Director. “It provides us with the resources to deepen our engagement in Central America and Peru.

“In this project, we will establish 140 more Global Coffee Monitoring Programme plots in farmers’ fields; we will work with PROMECAFE and the respective national coffee institutes to train breeders how to use new molecular breeding tools; and 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.”

The partnership allows WCR to build on a legacy of coffee R&D in the Central American region. “When WCR began in 2012, Central America was our main focus,” said CEO Tim Schilling, “so it’s nice to be able to work alongside TechnoServe on the project in this region.”

The Global Coffee Monitoring Programme is a network of small, on-farm demonstration trials where WCR works directly with farmers to test which combinations of improved varieties and improved 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 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 for coffee in the five focus countries through a programme of nursery development.

Through the project, 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.

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