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CIRAD and Craig Holt Given CQI’s 2020 Leadership Medals of Merit


CQI logo.

The Coffee Quality Institute (CQI) has announced that the French agricultural research organization CIRAD and Atlas Coffee Importers Founder Craig Holt are the recipients of the group’s 2020 Leadership Medals of Merit.

CIRAD and Holt were selected by the board of trustees of the Southern California-based nonprofit, which runs the popular Q Grader program for coffee professionals. In an announcement this week, CQI Board Chair Samantha Veide noted that the award is designed to honor efforts towards improving coffee farmer livelihoods and increasing coffee quality.

The Leadership Medals of Merit are typically given during a ceremony at an annual CQI meeting in conjunction with the SCA Expo, which was canceled this year due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

CIRAD is involved in a wide range of important agricultural research in Mediterranean and tropical regions throughout the world, including in coffee-growing regions. It’s rare these days that credible published research on subjects such as sustainable agriculture, coffee breeding, genetics and biodiversity or even the circadian rhythm of coffee plants doesn’t have an author or work from CIRAD associated with it.

The former chair of the CQI board and an accomplished fiction author, Holt is the recipient of CQI’s annual merit award for individuals. Holt has been a major force in the coffee industry in facilitating market access for rare, special and emerging coffees — not just through his own business but as a volunteer and ally to producer groups.

“[Holt] was instrumental in making it possible for Myanmar specialty coffee to be exported for the first time ever in 2016,” CQI board vice chair Bridget Carrington said in CQI’s announcement. “He exhibited the same dedication to the people and coffees of Yemen in 2014 when he was there as a CQI volunteer, finally investing in exporting coffee under very difficult circumstances. Craig also actively supported the initial exports of specialty grade coffee from Yunnan in China, visiting producers to not only talk about quality coffee production but about how to build successful relationships with green coffee buyers in the U.S. I cannot think of anyone who fulfills and personifies CQI’s guiding principles better than Craig.”