a1 Consultant Plant Breeding and Agronomy, 1606 CA 18 Venhuizen, the Netherlands
Traditional cultivars of arabica coffee (Coffea arabica) are susceptible to coffee leaf rust (CLR, Hemileia vastatrix) and coffee berry disease (CBD, Colletotrichum kahawae). CLR is of worldwide importance, while CBD is still restricted to Africa. Host resistances present in C. canephora to both destructive diseases have been successfully introgressed into C. arabica, after several decades of breeding and selection notably in Brazil, Colombia, India and for CBD resistance in East Africa. CLR resistant cultivars have since been grown on hundreds of thousands of hectares in Latin America and elsewhere, while CBD (and CLR) resistant cultivars are now increasingly being planted in East and South Eastern Africa. They contribute to ecologically sustainable coffee production and to considerable socio-economic benefits for the coffee growers. Nevertheless, some representatives of the international coffee trade continue to be sceptical about the cup quality of these modern cultivars. This paper presents an overview of the considerable amount of scientific evidence accumulated over the years showing that, with all environmental factors at optimum level, disease-resistant cultivars can produce quality coffees as good as those from the best traditional varieties.
(Accepted March 09 2009)