BeanScene Magazine


World Coffee Research launches Verified Program for coffee seed and nursery producers

From the September 2017 issue.

World Coffee Research (WCR) and Nsf International, an independent global organisation, have committed to protecting and improving public health with the launch of the WCR Verified Program to certify coffee seed producers and plant nurseries.

Until now, there has been no global standard for farmers and sponsors of coffee tree replanting programs to ensure that purchased coffee plants are healthy and genetically pure. The lack of such a standard results in lower productivity and higher risk for farmers.

"This is a major step toward realising one of coffee's sectors most important but underecognised needs: enabling the emergence of a professionalised seed sector,” says Hanna Neuschwander, WCR Communications Director.

This new initiative is designed to address these challenges at the start of the coffee supply chain so farmers can have confidence that plants purchased from WCR Verified nurseries and seed farms will perform as expected. Nsf International will audit and certify coffee seed producers and plant nurseries to the WCR Verified protocol.

By implementing and working with the WCR Verified technical protocols, producers on seed farms and nurseries will be able to maintain efficient management systems to ensure that their production has robust traceability and genetic purity. Through independent third-party audit reports, the producer can ensure critical points are being addressed and promote a culture of continuous improvement. The process is complemented with DNA analysis and traceability audits to ensure that genetic purity is maintained.

Coffee seed farms and nurseries certified to the WCR Verified protocol are evaluated independently based on the following criteria:

Nursery standards: The nursery follows best practices for raising healthy, disease-free plants.
Genetic purity: The coffee variety has been identified using WCR DNA fingerprinting so farmers can be certain they are buying the intended variety.
Education: The nursery provides information about the agronomic performance of different varieties to farmers so they can make informed choices.
Breeder’s rights: The nursery gives credit to plant breeders and their rights are respected.

WCR began work to develop the program in 2015, and engaged Nsf International in 2017 to develop it into a third-party certification program.

WCR appointed Nsf International to act as the WCR Verified Program registrar to manage the certification process and to oversee the integrity of the program to ensure transparency and independence. Audits and certification for coffee seed producers and nurseries will begin in Central America starting in September 2017, with expansion planned to coffee production areas in Mexico and South America, before the program is rolled out globally.

Seed farms and nurseries certified to the WCR Verified protocols are listed in an online directory tied to the WCR coffee varieties catalog at varieties.worldcoffeeresearch.org. The catalog currently features 38 varieties cultivated in Central America and will expand to Africa in 2018, and globally after that.

"We expect and hope that this program will be part of a larger transformation of the coffee sector, and will be especially relevant for farmers and programs pursuing renovation/replanting of coffee trees," says Hanna. "The significant need for renovation in the wake of the coffee leaf rust crisis in Central America is one reason the program is rolling out in this region first. We know that coffee farms that renovate with healthy/genetically pure plants are reducing their risk—and thus the industry's long-term supply chain risk."

Coffee farmers interested in sourcing high quality plants can consult the catalog and identify which varieties are offered by certified nurseries. As the WCR Verified program and the WCR coffee catalog expand to cover new production regions of the world, it will become the industry’s most essential resource for coffee variety information.

To learn more about WCR Verified or apply to become a certified producer, contact WCR at info@worldcoffeeresearch.org or Nsf International’s office in Costa Rica at coffee@nsf.org or +506 2253 0102.

WCR is a nonprofit collaborative research and development program of the global coffee industry to grow, protect, and enhance supplies of quality coffee while improving the livelihoods of the families who produce it. For more information, visit www.worldcoffeeresearch.org or click here.

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