World Coffee Research has named longtime crop plant breeder in both the private and NGO sectors George Kotch as its research director.
It is the senior scientific leadership position at the nonprofit organization, which focuses on promoting and maintaining the long-term health of the coffee sector through various collaborative plant breeding, cataloguing, outreach and research initiatives.
WCR praised Kotch for his ability to link the needs of farmers and end consumers to research and investments. Most recently, Kotch helped run the global Excellence in Breeding Platform, designed to help modernize national breeding programs in low- and medium-low-income countries.
“Under Dr. Kotch’s leadership, the program supported breeding programs to change behavior,” WCR wrote in an announcement of Kotch’s appointment today. “Instead of approaching breeding from a tool-based or academic approach (e.g., what problem do I the researcher think needs to be solved?), the programs pivoted to user-led design approaches (e.g., what problem does the user — a farmer or a consumer — need to have solved?).”
In the private sector, Kotch served as a vice president of R&D for the seed company HM Clause, and as head of global vegetable seed at Syngenta, where he oversaw a team of 800 employees, according to WCR.
“George brings tremendous experience accelerating impact in breeding programs, bringing new varieties that respond to farmer needs and market demands for quality and consistency,” Jennifer ‘Vern’ Long, CEO of WCR, said in the announcement. “Coffee faces serious challenges in the 21st century and George brings experience from a range of crops — he’ll leverage networks and techniques from across the globe to focus on coffee’s challenges. This is the right moment to bring him to our community as we face the combined threats of climate change and low prices.”