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Madagascan Coffee


Coffea commersoniana in Madagascar   Humid forest in Madagascar
Plants at the genebank have been grafted on to a root stock and while there, one of their technicians demonstrated the process of grafting coffee.

Coffee belonging to the genus Coffea has 103 described species, of which 58 are native to Madagascar. Of these 58 species, many of them are endangered and my research focus is on looking at the genetic diversity of four different species and making recommendations for conservation management. Though these wild coffee species are not cultivated for commercial purposes, it is crucial to conserve the genetic diversity within this genus, with many implications for future breeding.

Working in collaboration with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and the National Center of Applied Research and Rural Development (FOFIFA), I have been fortunate to utilize FOFIFA’s field genebank resources, where within their collections reside most of the Madagascan species. While at their Research Station last week, I was able to take samples from their collections for DNA extraction. Many of the plants at the genebank have been grafted on to a root stock and while there, one of their technicians demonstrated the process of grafting coffee.

The forest adjacent to the Coffee Research Station is the location of a wild population of C. vatovavyensis, one of my study species. Our expedition had to climb steep slopes into the humid forest to reach this population.

Another endangered species that I am looking at is C. commersoniana, which is native to the littoral ecosystems of southeast Madagascar. Today, I am heading off to Ft. Dauphin, located in the southeast to collect from C. commersoniana wild populations.



Joe Tomocik

Sarada, Thanks for the wonderful images and for updating us. Have a nice trip home and I will talk to you soon. Best wishes, Joe

Luigi There was some dark period for the FOFIFA living collection of wild Coffea, but actually it is in good condition. The problem is to have a sustainable financing for the maintenance.

Great to hear that the FOFIFA coffee genebank is still there and being used. Last saw it maybe 15 years ago.
Sarada Krishnan

Luigi, No, I will not be looking at caffeine content at this time. Eventually, someday maybe. My research focus is on conservation genetics, working on 4 species: Coffea kianjavatensis C. montis-sacri C. vatovavyensis C. commersoniana
Sarada Krishnan

Now that I am back from Madagascar, I would like to acknowledge a few key people who were important in making my trip succcessful. 1. FOFIFA (National Center of Applied Research and Rural Development) - the assistane of Dr. Jean Jacques Rakotomalala and Mdm. Yvonne Rabenantoandra and their willingness to allow me to utilize FOFIFA's field genebank resourses for my research. 2. The Madagascar field team of the United Nations Environment Program-Global Environmnet Facility (UNEP-GEF) co-funded project "In-situ conservation of crop wild relatives" led by Dr. Jeannot Ramelison for their assistance in locating populations of wild Coffea in Fort Dauphin and Kianjavato. 3. The Biodiversity team and the botanists at QIT Madagascar Minerals (QMM), particularly Mr. Johnny Rabinatoandra, Mr. Faly Rantriatafika and Mr. Rivo Rajoharison for their assistance in providing transportation and site visits in Fort Dauphin. 4. Dr. Franck Rakotonasolo of Parc Botanique et Zoologique de Tsimbazaza, an expert on Rubiaceae and Coffea, without whose field assistance this trip would not have been possible. 5. The staff at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Madagascar for arranging all my trip logistics and providing accomodations at Tana. 6. Dr. Aaron Davis, RBG, Kew, Rubiaceae Taxonomist and Coffea expert, whose advise throughtout my research has just been invaluable 7. And finally last, but not least, the local Malagasy people whose local plant knowledge is just incredible providing valuable assistance in local forests.

Will you be looking at caffeine content too? http://agro.biodiver.se/2008/11/mines-a-decaff/

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