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Start:1 January 2017                               End: 31 December 2020

project summary

Project title: Effects of coffee forest management intensification on arabica coffee (Coffea arabica L.) yield, yield quality and wild coffee genetic

A key crop and global commodity in the agro-ecosystems of SW Ethiopia is wild Coffea arabica, a shrub species of the Afromontane rainforest and the ancestor of all commercially grown Arabica cultivars. With over 15 million people in Ethiopia deriving their livelihood directly or indirectly from Arabica coffee, Ethiopian wild coffee provides extremely important ecosystem services in terms of the direct production value of coffee, but also in terms of genetic resources for improvement of coffee cultivars worldwide. The increasing demand for land driven by increasing population pressure, paralleled by an increasing demand for specialty coffee on the global market, have led to intensification of coffee production in these forests, by intensifying forest management and by introducing locally improved cultivars. Despite short term yield gains, increased management leads to over-exploitation and progressing ecosystem degradation, through changes in pollinator communities, in coffee genotypes and even in coffee taste. The objective of this project is to assess how changing production patterns of Arabica coffee in the Afromontane rainforest in SW Ethiopia are affecting the provisioning of high-quality coffee and of the conservation of coffee genetic resources for global coffee breeding.

Aims of the coffea arabica project

The general objective of this project is to assess the effects of forest management intensification onthe ecosystem services provided by Ethiopian montane forests, in terms of (i) production quality andquantity of Arabica coffee, and (ii) conservation of Arabica coffee genetic resources. The projectbuilds on the previous research experience of the applicants in Ethiopian coffee forests which hasallowed to pinpoint the most stringent research needs in terms of the conservation of the wild genepool of Arabica coffee.


The specific objective are to:

1) Quantify the effects of coffee forest management intensification on the diversity andcomposition of insect coffee pollinator communities, and on insect pollinator behavior;

2) Quantify the effects of changing pollinator communities and pollinator behavior on coffeeyield and temporal yield stability on the one side, and on coffee quality and coffee taste on theother side;

3) Quantify the frequency of occurrence, and the genome‐wide introgression patterns of CBDcultivars into the natural coffee gene pool along a gradient of forest managementintensification, with a focus on alleles of genes that may influence coffee taste.

highlights of the coffea arabica project


Olivier Honnay (Catholic University of Leuven - KULeuven, Belgium): project coordinator and contact person

Kurt Jordaens (Royal Museum for Central Africa - RMCA, Belgium)

Isabel Roldan (Research Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food - ILVO, Belgium)
Tom Ruttink (Research Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food - ILVO, Belgium)

see more on the Partners Page


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