Creating Better Coffee

To coffee farmers, one of the most important parts of the business is making sure their crop stays strong and healthy. Coffee plants are susceptible to pests that eat and damage the fruit and also fungi that can kill the plants. It is important to farmers to ensure the environment they are growing the plants in is safe and free from bugs and disease.

A way they can ensure this, is through the ICAFE. ICAFE is a company that provides small coffee farmers with resources to test the soil, water, and coffee plants themselves. The ICAFE provides these services at no cost, all they ask for is 1.5% of the farmers crop. This may seem like a lot, especially to farmers who do not have that big of a crop in the first place, but they provide information to the farmers they can use for years to come.

The technology I found most interesting at ICAFE was the lab that did research on the fungi that harms coffee plants. In the lab, they managed to develop their own fungi to combat the harmful one. Although this biological fungi is not as effective as a chemical pesticide, it is better for farmers who do not wish to use a lot of chemicals on their plants. Another thing they did in the labs, was test soil, water, and plant samples for pH levels, fungi, and pollutants. They can test the coffee beans for the level of caffeine they contain. ICAFE is also working to create coffee plant hybrids that are able to better withstand disease and other possible dangers.

ICAFE mainly performs work for smaller coffee farms, so why is that? Well for one, a lot of bigger coffee farms and roasters can afford their own tests on the plants, while smaller ones cannot. Going off of that, when a smaller farm does not meet expected yield, the farmer would usually have no way of knowing what caused this. This is when they would contact the ICAFE. A bigger coffee farm can afford to do more extensive research already. Another reason why big coffee producers do not want to use the ICAFE, would be because it would cost them 1.5% of their crop. If they can afford to do other methods, it might not seem worth it to them.

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