Breeding the Crown Crop

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Right now, one of the biggest threats to coffee plants is rust. Rust threatens plants by destroying their leaves and not allowing the plants to grow. This causes the plant to degrade overtime and after a few years, it cannot produce anymore coffee. At Icafe, they’re developing different fungi to combat this issue and to protect the plants. In addition to protection against rust, they’re developing biological defenses for the plants to withstand insects that feed on their cherries. Today we found out that the biological defenses that Icafe is developing aren’t as effective as the chemical options out there. The difference is that the biological methods take much longer to activate than the chemical. Icafe is using testing to determine soil quality, caffeine content of the green coffee, and the adaptability of different coffee arabica plants.

Farmers face many threats from pests and biological warfare. The pests are destroying the crop and not the plant itself. The biological warfare is caused by fungi that are in the soil. They can destroy entire plantations by their ability to kill plants and significantly reduce yield per plant. A farmer would seek the help of Icafe in order to test their soil and see if they’re at risk for any disease. They could also seek help to combat pests that they spot on the plants. Icafe is developing solutions to these issues and charge the farmers 1.5% of their income per year. With this cost, they receive all the help and resources they need for their plantations.

Large producers may not want help if they have been doing their own research with their plants. This is due to the resources at their disposal. They can save money and time by developing plants that are resistant to infections and pests. Unless they have the labs like Icafe, they won’t be able to develop and grow the fungi that are used to combat insects and infections. Large producers are able to devote more time and money to research than smaller plantations.

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