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Out of Africa? A clear and present danger to world coffee

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Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Out of Africa? A clear and present danger to world coffee

CABI launches the final report of a seven-year study on coffee wilt disease funded by the Common Fund for Commodities, together with the EU and the UK's Department for International Development. The disease was first reported from Central Africa in the 1920s, but was brought under control by the 1950s and was no longer considered a threat. However it returned with a vengeance in the 1990s, taking advantage of coffee institutes weakened by years of political and economic crises. The research programme involved scientists from UK, France, Belgium and seven African countries including the four countries where the disease is now present: Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia. The disease is caused by a fungus (Fusarium xylarioides), although genetic studies carried out during the project suggest that there are at least two separate forms, one attacking only Robusta coffee, the other (found in Ethiopia alone) attacking Arabica coffee.

Source: CABI