Rich Coffee Harvests Safeguard the Future

Phu Hieu, a crop protection expert, advises coffee farmers on how to identify diseases and insect attacks in time. He then helps to select the product to combat them.


Dak Lak Province in the highland region of Vietnam, 300 kilometers north of Saigon. The fertile soil and the mild, wet climate make the region ideal for growing coffee. The beans are in demand all over the world and provide a source of income for many families here.

Farmer Tam Dao also planted his first coffee bushes 15 years ago. It was a long shot, but he had no choice. A fungal infection had destroyed all the plants on his pepper plantation. His neighbors had suffered the same fate. All their attempts to ward off the fateful end had no effect. Tam Dao, father of ten children, was facing ruin. “I had to find a new way of making a living,” he recalls. “So I started growing coffee.”

2.25 billion

cups of coffee are drunk worldwide.

But growing coffee is not entirely free of risks either. The bushes need a lot of water and care, and it takes between four and five years for them to bear their first fruit in the highlands. Work on the plantations is hard, and it can only be done by hand. It’s not possible to use machines on this terrain. And despite the greatest care, diseases and pests are a frequent occurrence and threaten the valuable harvest.

Coffee growing in the Vietnamese highlands

One of the biggest threats is coffee rust. This fungus causes the leaves to drop, impairing the plant’s entire energy metabolism and diminishing yields. Farmer Tam was faced with a number of potential catastrophes in the early years. During the rainy season the unripe berries suddenly fell from the bushes; the branches and foliage appeared to have dried out completely. Today he uses crop protection products from Bayer CropScience to protect his harvest.

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“Much more coffee” – complete solutions for coffee growers

Hemileia vastatrix and Leucoptera coffeella - even their names make them sound like trouble. They are two of the major threats to coffee plantations worldwide.

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Coffee rust and the coffee leaf miner. One is a fungal disease, the other an insect that resembles a butterfly. The difference between them is enormous, but they have a similar impact on coffee plants. Affected bushes lose their leaves. This impairs their ability to photosynthesize and depresses both metabolism and yield. The number of coffee berries that contain coffee beans also decreases as a result. It’s every coffee grower’s nightmare.

The end-consumers of coffee play a role in determining which pests the coffee growers have to deal with. The global trend towards higher-quality coffee encourages growers to plant arabica varieties, but these are more susceptible to disease than robusta varieties, and consequently more likely to be attacked by coffee rust.

But farmers are able to take preventive action, thanks to Bayer CropScience. The company is one of the world’s leading suppliers of crop protection products for coffee plantations. Bayer also has products which effectively control the two major pests, such as Nativo™ to combat coffee rust. In some countries combination products are on sale which control both coffee rust and the leaf miner. One of them is Premier Plus™, which is marketed in Brazil.

The company works continuously to produce innovations such as Envidor™, a product to control spider mites. Another is Alion™, a new herbicide which reached its first markets in 2011. It is effective against a broad spectrum of weeds which would otherwise compete with the coffee plants for water and nutrients. For some coffee growers this herbicide is a useful alternative to glyphosate, the active ingredient that has been in common use up to now and to which some weeds have developed resistance.

But Bayer CropScience supplies more than just individual products. “We see ourselves more as a supplier of crop solutions,” explains Dr. Albert Witzenberger, who is also responsible for coffee in his function as Global Crop Manager Fruit. As part of these solutions, experts also visit coffee growers to provide on-the-spot assistance in developing a crop protection program tailored to their specific needs. The name of the global program operated by Bayer CropScience clearly describes the aim: Much more coffee.

 “I trust these products,” Tam says. “They’re very good, economical and efficient,” Phu Hieu, a crop protection expert, provides him with advice on the plantation. He helps Tam to identify diseases and insect attack in good time and to select the right product to combat them. “I’ve learned a lot from Hieu,” Tam says. “He has shown me when and how to examine the coffee plants correctly. I’d tried a lot of crop protection products before, but none of them was effective. Hieu then used his Bayer products on my plantation, and they worked really well,” he adds.

I trust these products. They’re very good, economical and efficient.

Coffee – an international drink

Coffee – an international drink

All the world loves coffee. But people’s favorite way of preparing it varies from one continent to the next.

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Here’s a small selection: In Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee, people like their coffee to be aromatic and they flavor it with a little ground cardamom. Brazil’s favorite type of coffee is known as “café de olla” and is served cold with a little cinnamon. The important thing here is for the water to have a high mineral and oxygen content.

If you order “caffè” in Italy, you’ll get an espresso. Add milk and foam and you’ve got a cappuccino. This coffee gets its name from the white hood worn by the Capucine monks.

The latest trend among the younger generation in Japan is coffee prepared with soy milk. They drink it because they believe that soy beans have anti-aging properties.

“Café con hielo” is very popular in Spain. You make it by pouring sweetened coffee into a glass of ice cubes.

People in Thailand don’t put milk in their coffee, but make up for it with plenty of spices and sugar.

In Turkey, coffee is boiled with water and served complete with its “soul,” the grounds. The special aroma develops in a pot that sits directly on the stove – often over an open flame.

People in the United States drink enormous quantities of filter coffee with plenty of milk – either as a “refill” in a café or in a paper cup “to go.”

Coffee in Vietnam has a surprisingly chocolaty taste. It contains a lot of caffeine and is very strong. Its special flavor comes from the sweetened condensed milk used to prepare it. It’s drunk either hot or cold with plenty of ice cubes.

Nowadays coffee is the second most important export product in Vietnam after rice. In recent years, the Southeast Asian country has risen through the ranks of coffee-exporting countries to become the second largest in the world after Brazil. And domestic demand had increased substantially too, because the Vietnamese are passionate about drinking coffee. Drunk ice-cold with sweetened milk, the stimulating brew is practically the national drink, and is consumed morning, noon and night. People all round the world love coffee. Every day, more than 2.25 billion cups of it are drunk worldwide, and the trend is an upward one. After crude oil, the precious beans are the most widely traded commodity.

Coffee in the body

In Dak Lak Province, coffee growing has enabled small-scale farmers to achieve a modest degree of prosperity. Today, coffee beans account for 80 percent of the region’s agricultural exports. Farmer Tam Dao also makes a good living from his two hectares of land. “I’m very happy – harvest time is approaching and my bushes are very healthy.” Coffee bushes have saved his family from poverty and enabled the children to get a good education, the 66-year-old farmer says. “I think that my children and grandchildren will be able to lead a better life thanks to the coffee,” he says with some pride, adding that his son will probably take over the plantation from him.

A superlative product

A superlative product

Coffee is the most popular drink in the world, and it’s the most-traded commodity after crude oil.

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It provides work for 20 million people and is one of the most thoroughly researched food products. It features in up to 2,000 scientific studies every year, most of which focus on its effects on health.

All thanks to the goats
Legend has it that, in the 9th century, a goatherd in the Ethiopian kingdom of Kaffa noticed that his animals were particularly frisky after they had been eating red coffee berries. The first people to make use of this property were probably nomads in Ethiopia. They crushed red coffee berries, blended them with fat and ate hem as a mild stimulant. Around the year 1000, people started using the pulp of the beans to brew “qahwa”, a mixture of water and the fermented juice of coffee berries. It was around this time that slave traders are thought to have introduced coffee to Yemen, where the first coffee plants were cultivated in the 15th century.

Two varieties provide coffee for the world
The plant genus “Coffea” comprises some 70 species which are native throughout the tropics. Despite this variety, it is just two species which account for practically the entire production of coffee in the world: Coffea arabica, grown in the mountains, and Coffea canephora, also known as robusta coffee. Approximately 65 percent of the coffee harvested in the world is robusta.

Modern newspapers unthinkable without coffee
The first coffee houses in London were referred to as Penny Universities because customers were charged a penny for a cup of coffee and got intellectual conversation into the bargain. The city’s first Penny University opened in 1652, and 50 years later the number had grown to over 2,000. In the 18th century they were the birthplace of the first newspaper editorial offices and brought forth publications such as the Tatler and the Spectator. These appeared several times a week and contained articles on politics, the economy, culture and society.

Less is more
Ludwig Roselius, a merchant from Bremen, developed the first commercial process for decaffeinating coffee in 1905. His motive was entirely personal. Roselius believed that his father, who had been a heavy coffee drinker, had died as a result of caffeine poisoning. Roselius’s invention soon became popular not only in Germany but in France and the United States as well.

Nothing but prejudices
It used to be said that coffee is bad for your health. Over the years, opinion has changed, and scientific studies have shown that moderate consumption of coffee can, among other things, help to

• reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia,
• possibly protect elderly women against depression,
• reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes,
• and reduce the likelihood of women suffering a stroke.