SWITZERLAND – As climate change looms over coffee cultivation, Nestlé has pioneered an initiative, employing advanced data science and artificial intelligence to fortify the resilience of coffee plants against environmental threats.

While Arabica constitutes a significant portion of global coffee production, its susceptibility to rising temperatures and diseases poses a formidable challenge.

With climate change shrinking arable land and exacerbating water shortages, the need for resilient coffee varieties becomes paramount to safeguarding farmer livelihoods and ensuring sustainable cultivation practices.

Nestlé’s team of plant scientists has embarked on a mission to develop higher yielding Arabica varieties with enhanced disease and drought resistance. Central to their efforts is the creation of a comprehensive Arabica reference genome, a digital repository publicly available to facilitate genetic analysis and trait identification.

Jeroen Dijkman, Head of Nestlé’s Institute of Agricultural Sciences, likens the reference genome to a detailed map of a metropolis, aiding in the identification of crucial genetic markers responsible for desired traits in coffee plants. This breakthrough empowers researchers to pinpoint and breed new Arabica varieties tailored to meet evolving challenges.

Published in Nature Genetics, Nestlé’s innovative work signifies a significant advancement in plant genomics.

Patrick Descombes, Senior Expert in Genomics at Nestlé Research, underscores the unparalleled quality of their reference genome, achieved through cutting-edge genomic techniques and collaborative efforts with leading academic institutions worldwide.

To successfully execute the project, Nestlé has joined hands with partners including the French National Institute for Sustainable Development and academic institutions across the globe. Through concerted efforts, the Swiss multinational aims to empower farmers with elite coffee varieties resilient to climate change.

Nestlé’s dedication extends beyond research, as evidenced by the Nescafé Plan 2030. By distributing millions of plantlets developed by their plant sciences experts, Nestlé actively contributes to building a sustainable future for coffee production, fostering resilience and prosperity within farming communities.

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