ICAFE Leading the Way

Coffee farmers are constantly having to deal with fugus, rust, and other diseases in their plants and crops. Some of these problems, they can solve by using chemicals. Large producers of coffee may not want help dealing with these problems for several reasons: solutions can be a long process, problems may be too big to be taken care of properly, and company cares more about quantity rather than quality. But if they want to improve their quality and wanted an expert opinion as what to do with these problems, they would then go seek help from ICAFE.  ICAFE has a big department focused on research dealing with diseases and problems that coffee farmers must deal with daily. Their research focuses on coming up innovative ideas to recycle byproducts, develop new solutions, and to use fertilizers and pest controls appropriately.  

During a tour around ICAFE, the tour guide mentioned some of their cutting-edge technology/processes, developed and used for their research. One of the main focuses of their research is geared towards coming up with ways to recycle byproducts. One process that they use to recycle byproducts, is to use leftover parts they don’t need or use from the coffee bean, to power ovens. More specifically, at ICAFE, they use biomass from sugar and parchments from coffee to power the ovens that are used to dry the coffee beans out. Another process that they use, is the technique of cloning plants. This technique speeds up the growth of the plants that are more resistant to the diseases that most plants are susceptible to. In detail, this cloning process contains seeds of these more resistant plants in nutritious soil, gel like, that grow into plants and leads to the mass production of the same kind of seeds originally used. Lastly, atomic absorption was a process that was previously used to analyze the concentration levels of different elements that are in the plant leaves and land soil. If the concentration was too high though, the sample had to be diluted before the machinery could properly read the concentration levels. But now, there’s a cutting-edge technology that ICAFE is using, and that machinery is called the inductively coupled plasma (ICP). This technology pumps samples of either plant leaves or soil into the machine, and then the plasma in the machine causes the elements in the sample to send wavelengths to a computer. A researcher than analyzes and makes conclusions about the element concentrations in a sample. The intensity of the wavelength of each element is related to the concentration amount of the element. This technology is not only more reliable but it is also more efficient, because the machine takes about 30 seconds to process each sample’s elements.

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