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Project

An evaluation of the agronomic and socio-economic potential of Robusta coffee genetic resources as a cash crop in the Congo Basin (COFFEEBRIDGE)

Coffee is an important cash crop for small coffee farmers in the Global South and is an important commodity worldwide. The political economy of coffee production is influenced by ecology, climate change, biodiversity, soil fertility, and livelihood options. In this project expertise from different disciplines will be integrated; knowledge will be valorized and science-based advice will be provided for the revival of sustainable Robusta coffee production in Tshopo Province (DR Congo), for the conservation of the Congolese genetic diversity of wild Coffea canephora genetic resources and its wild relatives and for the development of a local, sustainable economy in a global context. This project will contribute, directly and indirectly, to the conservation and valorization of coffee genetic resources and several UN Sustainable Development Goals, and strengthen local and international skills in the field of agriculture and food. Although this project is focusing on the Congo Basin and Tshopo Province, in particular, the project will contribute to broader coffee challenges.

The proposed project has five objectives:
1) the local coffee chain, its sociological dimensions and economic relevance will be evaluated by carrying out socio-economic surveys in the Tshopo Province (WP2).
2) the evaluation of the Robusta coffee genetic resources in the DRC, in particular in Tshopo province, for cultivation and breeding by doing a genetic, phenotypic, chemical and organoleptic study of the available genetic resources in the perspective of its valorization. This will contribute to the coffee cultivation locally and globally, characterize new genetic resources and indicate potentially interesting genetic diversity.
3) the evaluation of the existing cropping system and proposing potential optimization of the cropping system by analyzing i.e. macro- and micro-nutrient deficiencies in the coffee leaves in different genetic lines and an agro-ecological evaluation of the current cropping system. This will result in recommendations to improve current agronomic practices and the cropping system in order to arrive at a sustainable and profitable coffee culture, as a cornerstone for the well-being of the local communities.
4) research in the (colonial) Archives will allow to ‘recuperate’ knowledge on Robusta coffee kept in archives and grey literature, which can give information on the origin and ‘genetic’ identity of the cultivated Robusta coffee and on the successes and failures of the past.
5) integration of the results in order to formulate a policy advice and tool for the rehabilitation of the Coffee cultivation in Tshopo Province.
Date:15 Dec 2019  →  Today