For many years, CIRAD teams have been working on the genetic improvement of coffee trees in order to provide planters with productive coffee trees, resistant to environmental stresses and yielding high quality coffee under agroforestry conditions. Several hybrid varieties of Arabica coffee have been selected and marketed by CIRAD in Latin America. They combine remarkable agronomic performances – with in particular high productivity (+ 40-70% compared to conventional varieties like the Java variety widely used in Cameroon) and higher resilience to stresses associated with climate change (rise in temperatures, drought and certain diseases such as orange rust) – and produce high-end coffees known as ‘specialty coffees’.
As part of the H2020 project BREEDCAFS coordinated by CIRAD, in which Cameroon participates through the participation of IRAD (Agronomic Institute for Development), these Arabica coffee hybrids are made available to Cameroonian planters, on an experimental basis at first through the establishment from 2018 of evaluation plots in western Cameroon, then on a larger scale. through “clusters” of several tens of hectares from 2020. At the same time, other actions aim to transfer to the Cameroonian partner the techniques of propagation of these varieties both by somatic embryogenesis at the IRAD laboratory in Yaoundé and by mini -buttings rooted in the nurseries of the IRAD research station in Fumbot. The aim of these transfers is for IRAD to rapidly acquire total autonomy for the dissemination of hybrid varieties throughout the country. Finally, an innovation platform has been set up which brings together producers, roasters, researchers and representatives of national research institutions. Its objective is to support the establishment of clusters and then the marketing of high-end coffee produced, at prices 30 to 40% higher than the prices in force.
These new varieties of coffee trees contribute to the strategy to revive the research and production of coffee that IRAD, CIRAD’s privileged partner, is implementing over the period 2020-2025.