WCR conducts the 29th biannual ASIC conference in Vietnam where 13 coffee scientists from coffee growing countries participated
October 18 - 2023
Coffee Geography Magazine
World Coffee Research supports 13 researchers from producing countries to attend ASIC conference and learn about Vietnamese coffee production. The coffee research institute welcomed 13 scientists from producing countries around the globe—including Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Papua New Guinea—to Hanoi, Vietnam to attend the 29th biannual Association for Science and Information on Coffee (ASIC) conference. The conference provides specialists worldwide with the opportunity to gather and share their research on all aspects of coffee science and technology. The effort to bring producing country researchers to the global scientific forum is part of WCR’s continued commitment to supporting national coffee institutes and strengthening their capacity for research and development (R&D). The travel was made possible by support from WCR member companies, U.S. Government funds, and the Philippine Coffee Advancement and Farm Enterprise (PhilCAFE) program.
Attendees presented their own research to the global scientific audience and networked with top researchers across many scientific domains. At the conference, WCR team members Dr. Tania Humphrey, Director of R&D, Dr. Kraig Kraft, Asia & Africa Director, Drs. Robert Kawuki, Santos Barrera, and Jorge Berny, Research Scientists in Plant Breeding and Genomics, and Nuzul Qudri, Regional Project Manager for Asia, presented the latest results of WCR’s own ongoing programs and convened with the greater coffee community, including the 13 sponsored partners.
“This was my first international coffee conference and it was indeed an eye-opener to me as a person,” said Dr. Jane Cheserek, Research Scientist at the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization’s (KALRO) Coffee Research Institute, “The conference was a wonderful platform where I got to meet other breeders, global scientists, and stakeholders within the coffee industry. I was able to create new networks during the conference and learn how breeding and other research programs are conducted in different coffee organizations. We are looking forward to adopting some of the lessons learned in our research programs.”
Throughout the conference, the sponsored scientists and WCR team were able to hear from agronomists, geneticists, botanists, ecologists, sensory and health experts, and others comprising over 160 attendees from research organizations worldwide. This wide range of presentations allowed participants to gain exposure to the cutting-edge solutions being proposed to mitigate the myriad challenges currently facing the industry.
“It is clear that the global coffee industry is facing a number of challenges due to climate change, extreme weather, rising production costs, and dissatisfaction of coffee farmers,” said Dr. Kifle Belachew Bekele, Senior Researcher at the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR)’s Jimma Agricultural Research Center (JARC), “To solve these challenges, international events like the ASIC conference are eye-opening and helpful for coffee scientists like me. This event allowed me to deepen my technical knowledge in coffee diseases and pest management, and enrich my professional network with globally known coffee pathologists, entomologists, and coffee stress management breeders.”
Several of WCR’s guests also had the chance to present their own research and make vital contributions to the growing body of knowledge of coffee agricultural science as countries collaborate to accelerate innovation. For instance, Dawit Merga Temesgen, Plant Breeding Researcher at EIAR’s JARC, presented a poster alongside his team. “[The experience] gave me a chance to learn many practical techniques, share experiences, and network with different researchers from universities, research institutes, and other stakeholders around the world, especially on coffee breeding and genetics,” said Temesgen, “Without WCR’s support, such an incredible experience sharing and presenting would not have been possible.”
After the conference concluded, the group took part in a multi-day, multi-site immersive experience centered on breeding and production throughout Vietnam’s coffee-growing areas, including the central highlands, where ~80% of the country’s production is concentrated. The learning journey took the group to sites like the Eatu Fair Agricultural Service Cooperative and the Western Highlands Agriculture & Forestry Science Institute (WASI) research station, and to visit exporters Simexco Daklak.
At each of these sites, the group toured farms and production facilities and deepened their understanding of both arabica and robusta cultivation throughout the country. The journey encouraged participants to observe practices and gain insight into interventions they may be able to utilize in their own research.
“[The experience] enriched my view of NaCORI’s current coffee research interventions in comparison to the world’s focus areas,” said Dr. Godfrey Sseremba, Programme Leader and Senior Research Officer of the Coffee and Cocoa Variety Improvement and Management Programme at Uganda’s National Coffee Research Institute (NaCORI), “My experience of the Vietnamese coffee research and production organization will inform how to best position NaCORI’s variety improvement to be more relevant to end users.”
Many of the WCR team and the hosted scientists departed from Vietnam with a renewed sense of passion for their work and returned home ready to continue their efforts as members of the global community building a brighter future for coffee. “I feel I’m now part of a bigger community of like-minded professionals who have a lot to offer to the wider coffee communities and stakeholders throughout the world who depend directly—or indirectly—on coffee for survival,” said Agronomist and Research Scientists Barth Apis of the Papua New Guinea Coffee Industry Cooperation, “I’m now going back with an improved perspective to further establish collaboration and networks both internationally and locally for the main purpose of adding to the coffee value chain.”
• Ari Wibowo, Indonesia Coffee and Cocoa Institute
• Dr. Miftahur Rizqi, Indonesia Coffee and Cocoa Institute
• Barth Apis, Papua New Guinea Coffee Industry Cooperation
• Michelle Bafeo, Papua New Guinea Coffee Industry Cooperation
• Dr. Godfrey Sseremba, Uganda National Coffee Research Institute
• Evans Atwijukire, Uganda National Coffee Research Institute
• Lemi Beksisa, Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research
• Dawit Merga, Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research
• Dr. Kifle Belachew, Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research