Appropriate Crop Improvement Research Programmes Continue to be Implemented

One of the major constraints to productivity and the development and growth of Tanzania’s coffee industry has been caused by the continued cultivation of old varieties that are low yielding and highly susceptible to major coffee diseases such as coffee berry disease (CBD) and coffee leaf rust (CLR) for Arabica and coffee wilt disease (CWD) for Robusta.

Objective of Crop Improvement Research Programmes

One of TaCRI’s major objectives is to identify high yielding varieties resistant to CLR, CBD and CWD with large bean size and high cup quality that perform optimally within the diverse coffee production areas of Tanzania. The role of the Crop Improvement research programme is to develop and promote new varieties of Arabica and Robusta coffee that deliver high yields, are disease resistant, and which have good bean size and cup quality.

Achievements of Crop Improvement Research Programmes

To date TaCRI has released 19 Arabica coffee hybrid and four Robusta varieties that combine high yields and good beverage quality with resistance to the devastating diseases – coffee leaf rust (CLR) and coffee berry disease (CBD) for Arabica and coffee wilt disease (CWD) for Robusta. These varieties are being mass multiplied (through vegetative multiplication and tissue culture multiplication) for distribution to coffee growers around the country. The exceptionally good beverage quality of the new varieties has been reconfirmed. TaCRI samples of the new varieties submitted to the national Taste of Harvest (ToH) competition conducted by the Coffee Quality Institute/Eastern African Fine Coffees Association (CQI/EAFCA) came second with a score of 85.3 points, reconfirming the excellent beverage quality of the new varieties.

Further, research is going on to develop second generation compact coffee hybrid varieties: 38 compact breeding lines are currently evaluated in different agro-ecological zones with 36 breeding lines showing resistant to CLR and all 38 lines are resistant to CBD. Development of drought tolerant coffee varieties phase one (water use efficient varieties): Three breeding lines out of 10 have shown that they are  drought tolerant. Evaluation of 300 CWD resistant Robusta hybrids breeding lines: 274 lines have shown that are resistant to CWD, 257 to CLR, and productivity of  105 lines is more than 2 kg of green beans per tree. Research in both somatic embryogenesis and production of F1 hybrid seeds to contribute to accelerated multiplication and distribution of hybrid seeds varieties is encouraging.