Coffee is an important international commodity next to oil. According to the International Coffee Organization (ICO) report, as more of the world population turns to coffee consumption particularly Latin America and the populous nations like India and china, demand for the beverage estimated to increase by nearly 25 percent over the coming five years.
Currently, consumer intake of stands at 141.6 million bags of green beans but, by 2020 coffee demand have projected to rise to 175.8 million bags. On the other hand, global coffee production and supply is very unlikely to increase since the world largest Brazil which accounts for about one third or 33 percent of the world, supply is frequently facing recurrent drought and other climatic problems. Other coffee growing Latin American countries are not such expected to produce much because of the devastating coffee fungi disease which remains to be a persistent problem. In order to fill the expected gap between production and consumption and stabilize the international coffee market, the world is eyeing at Africa, as the report stated.
Africa also owes wide ranges of agroecology and incredible landmass suitable for coffee production in all the 25 coffee growing countries of Africa. According to documents, Ethiopia Uganda and cote’divire have promising coffee production while the rest 22 coffee growing countries are producing very small amounts and are not steady to transform their coffee sub sector.
As documents indicated, currently, Ethiopia is a leading coffee producer in African and the world’s fifth largest producer next to Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia and Indonesia, contributing about 10 percent of world coffee supply. Coffee is also the back bone of Ethiopia’s economy contributing about 40 percent of Ethiopia’s total export earnings with more than 15 million people small holder farmers deriving their livelihood on coffee. Therefore, Ethiopia has the greatest opportunity in many ways than any other African countries to exploit the opportunity from this rising world coffee consumption. In effect government support in coffee sector development, appropriate coffee research and development strategies by picking out general and organizational issues, genetics and breeding, biotechnology, agronomy and physiology, soil and water management, crop protection, research extension.
On a recent workshop prepared by the Ethiopian Biotechnology Institute and Ethiopian Institute of Agriculture Research under a theme ‘Ethiopian coffee tissue culture challenges and its way forward,’ Ethiopian coffee production potential challenges and their resolutions were widely discussed.
Dr. Kasshun Tesfaye Director General to Ethiopian Biotechnology Institute said Agriculture in Ethiopia is the foundation of the country’s economy, accounting for half of gross domestic product GDP, 83.9 percent of exports, and 80 percent of total employment. Out of the total large parts of commodity exports provided by the small agricultural cash crop sector, principal crops is coffee. “The government is giving due attention towards designing and implementation of enabling polices and strategies related to biotechnology, particularly in agricultural, health environment and industrial biotechnology, in particular for cash crops, such as coffee.”
He said that the Technique of Plant Tissue Culture (PTC) which contributes to the production of crops with improved food, feed, fiber and fuel, particularly coffee tissue culture is not yet well practiced in Ethiopia while its influence in increasing productivity is indispensable. “Since Ethiopia has huge potential, to increase coffee production with suitable environment and different coffee husbandry technology that enables to boost coffee production implemented such as coffee nursery management practices, appropriate shed tree identification, organic and inorganic fertilizer application practices and also coffee tissue culture which is critically important tool to multiply high yielding and disease resistant cultivators with minimal production costs. Coffee tissue culture is widely used globally and nationally for large scale plant propagation and improvement.”
As Dr. Kasshun stated,previous studies showed that coffee tissue culture needs special attention and joint effort multi- institution for successful mass propagation. In order to overcome coffee tissue culture challenges, it is necessity to broaden and expand the insight to basic scientific knowledge and understand different mechanisms at the cellular, physiological, molecular and biochemical level.
According to the information from National coffee tissue culture, coffee tissue culture is carrying out at Melkassa, Jimma, Debrezit and Holeta with the capacity of 50- 150,000 seedling preparation.
Ashenafi Ayano Director to Horticulture/coffee, Tea and Spice Specialization Center said that coffee breeding is increasingly relying on bio technologies, including tissue culture application.
According to him Currently, the government has re-crafted Ethiopian Coffee and Tea Development and Marketing Authority (ECTDMA) in which assumed to make a difference in the sector along with coffee research system.
“The current coffee productivity per hectare is about 748 kg and it is targeted to increase it to 990 up to 1080 kg per hectare at the end of growth and transformation period (GTPII).” he said
Application of modern agricultural technology including tissue culture and other biotechnology tools and approaches are crucial to enhance productivity. More specifically, micro propagation is an in vitro culture of tissues, organs or the whole plant parts under aseptic, controlled nutritional and environmental conditions often produce true to type clone of cultivator, he elaborated.
The national development plan of coffee sector has been aligning and the National Coffee Research Strategy designed to enhance coffee production and productivity by generating appropriate coffee technologies with its full packages and also exert utmost efforts to address coffee growing areas in the country with coffee research technologies in a various statuses.
Since the establishment of National Coffee Research Coordinating Center Jimma Agricultural Research Center (JARC) a number of coffee production technologies have been generated, Ashenafi remarked
The prominent ones are development of 40 coffee varieties among which 34 are selections and six of them are hybrid varieties. Yet the released hybrid varieties not well distributed due to insufficient propagation technology mainly micro propagation/ tissue culture.
Approaches and efforts taken by the different research institutions in the country in order to resolve the coffee tissue culture challenges and expand perceptions of scientific knowledge and understand different mechanisms at the cellular, physiological, molecular and biochemical level is encouraging despite the bottlenecks,inadequate infrastructure, skilled man power and budget among others, Ashenafi added JARC is conducting research activities including protocol optimization and mass multiplication of hybrid coffee using tissue culture techniques and achieved 18,458 hybrid coffee plant lets.
Copyright The Ethiopian Herald. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).