Key Info

Basic Information

Prof. Dr. Björn Usadel
Faculty / Institution:
Mathematics, Computer Science and Natural Sciences
Societal Challenges
Project duration:
01.06.2017 to 31.05.2021
EU contribution:
4.200.000 euros
  EU flag This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 727934.  


BREEDing Coffee for AgroForestry Systems


Many tropical tree crops are threatened by climate change (CC), including coffee which is highly sensitive to high temperatures, droughts and diseases. 60% of coffee today is cultivated in Agroforestry Systems (AFS), which reduce dependence on external inputs and mitigate the adverse effects of CC. So far, however, breeding has developed cultivars only for open-sun cultivation. Using new Arabica coffee F1 hybrids as a case study, we will design and test coffee varieties, better adapted to AFS and CC and maintaining a robust defense system to biotic and abiotic stresses. By doing so, we will show how breeding programs can benefit both smallholder farmers by improving their incomes, increase the options for sustainability, and benefit the European industry through sustained supplies and a wider range of specialty coffees. The project will take advantage of hybrids, established in 8 countries (Portugal, France, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, French Guyana, Cameroon, El Salvador, Vietnam) under controlled conditions (temperature, light, CO2), field trials and networks of on-farm plots. GxE will be assessed through a multidisciplinary approach where genotypes will be grown in a wide range of environments and low-input management inherent to AFS. Farmers will participate in developing the farm assessment methodology and their experiences with new hybrids (profitability, social acceptance) will inform the breeding strategy. Roasters will be involved in the breeding process through evaluation of beverage quality. By combining extensive phenotyping with metabolomic and transcriptomic analysis, we will develop analytical and predictive tools for Coffee Metabolic Networks, leading to marker aided rapid selection and a new approach for breeding of perennial crops. Impacts will be ensured by innovation platforms, technology transfer for clonal propagation, promotion of direct trading between roasters and farmers, and promotion of new hybrids adapted to AFS.


  • Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement – C.I.R.A.D. Epic, France (Coordinator)
  • Eurofins Analytics Frace SAS, France
  • Instituto Superior de Agronomia, Portugal
  • Nova.Id.Fct - Associação Para A Inovação E Desenvolvimento Da Fct, Portugal
  • National University of Ireland Galway, Ireland
  • Kobenhavns Universitiet, Denmark
  • Illycaffe S.P.A., Italy
  • Fundación Nicafrance, Nicaragua
  • Stichting SNV Nederlandse Ontwikkelingsorganisatie, Netherlands
  • Institut de recherche pour le développement, France
  • Université de Montpellier, France
  • Max-Planck-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Wissenschaften e.V., Germany
  • World Coffee Research, United States
  • Arizona Board of Regents, United States
  • Institut de recherche agricole pour le développement, Cameroon