In a report by the state-run Ethiopian News Agency (ENA), researchers at Addis Ababa University in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, discovered a new medicine that can treat a fungal disease that causes coffee plants to dry.
The new treatment primarily prevents coffee wilt disease (CWD). The disease is known to block water from moving up the plant and causes the stem and leaves to dry and may affect a plant in any of its growth stages, namely flowering, fruiting, pre-emergence, seedling, and vegetative growth stage.
The medicine will substitute Trichoderma that Ethiopia imports to prevent fungal pathogens from spreading and infecting coffee and other plants.Tesfaye Alemu, lead researcher and instructor at the university.
Based on the research findings, the medicine will also help prevent other plant diseases and can be used without the need for any chemicals. The components of the new medicine include a biodegradable fungus.
A previous research conducted by professors at Jimma University in Ethiopia claims that “the national incidence and severity of CWD in Ethiopia were 27.9 and 5%, respectively, with estimated monetary loss of more than $US3.8 million annually.”
Alemu expressed hope that the discovery will save the East African country money while also increasing the quality and quantity of coffee production. He stated that the new treatment would be supplied soon once coffee growers have been taught how to utilise it. The report did not state, however, whether the medicine can treat the plant fungal disease only at its early stage or also at an advanced phase.
Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI), a UK-based nonprofit organisation for scientific research on agriculture and the environment, highlights that to be successful in the management of the disease, early diagnosis is helpful. Information dissemination raises awareness of the symptoms of the disease, which allows for an immediate call to action.
According to the Ethiopian Coffee and Tea Authority, the three principal fungal diseases of Arabica coffee are coffee berry disease (CBD), coffee wilt disease (CWD), and coffee leaf rust (CLR), which are lowering coffee production and consumption in the country.
Ethiopia is known internationally as the origin of Arabica coffee and for its rich coffee quality and flavours, ranging from winy to fruity and chocolate variants.
According to Ethiopia’s Agriculture Ministry, the nation shipped approximately 300,000 metric tons of coffee to the international market in the fiscal year, which ended on July 7, 2022, generating a record-high $1.4 billion annual revenue.
Photo by Alan Schaller