Global enhancement of coffee quality through prevention of mold formation

Persistent low coffee prices have led to the suspension of established agricultural practices and processing techniques. The challenge now is to develop accessible and sustainable recommendations for small-scale growers that have a positive social impact but do not increase production costs. The FAO global project for the Enhancement of Coffee Quality through the Prevention of Mold Formation (FAO/CFC/ISIC, 1999) began in December 2000 in Brazil, Colombia, Ivory Coast, India, Indonesia, Kenya, and Uganda, with ongoing collaboration from the Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement (CIRAD) and the Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee (ISIC).

The overall scope of the project was to develop solutions and prevention strategies for coffee farmers, buyers and exporters, and to emphasize capacity building while applying internationally accepted food hygiene principles and a HACCP based food safety approach and identifying the critical control points that minimize possible contamination. Underlying the capacity building efforts were recommended measures/good practices, scientific research and field studies and appropriate surveillance and monitoring programs.

The general objective was to increase national awareness of the importance of fungal contamination and ochratoxin A in coffee production on the health of the population and the need to implement effective prevention and control systems along the production and trading chain. More specific objectives included: (i) improvement of analytical methodology and sampling for detection of ochratoxin A and the establishment of good laboratory practices, (ii) preparation of a national action plan for the control of toxigenic fungi and the reduction of ochratoxin A with practices/measures/actions integrated into a unified prevention and control system, (iii) preparation of publications outlining the national action plan, and (iv) improving the quality and value of all coffee varieties. Country needs assessment and country validation-feedback were performed to ensure sustainability.

An electronic training resource (web and CD-ROM based) on good hygiene practices along the coffee chain was developed to guide authorities in the development of national training programs.

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