Mobile Apps Aid Rural Coffee Farmers

Three organizations join forces to help rural coffee farmers rise out of the climate crisis through the use of mobile technology apps and educational programs.
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Three organizations join forces to help rural coffee farmers rise out of the climate crisis through the use of mobile technology apps and educational programs.
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The last year has not been good to coffee farmers. Changing weather conditions, particularly in Latin America, have caused coffee prices to rise and even companies like Starbucks have begun rethinking their coffee-buying habits.

Rising temperatures have been problematic, causing the worst outbreak of coffee rust the world as seen, leaving Guatemala in the state of emergency. A drought in Brazil has significantly reduced their production of coffee. A large majority of the coffee producers are in rural areas, and do not have much access to information that could help them run their productions and overall businesses better and more efficiently.

Coming to the rescue are three organizations -- the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Columbia (FNC), software solutions company SAP, and UK startup WeatherSafe. These companies are working together to gather information and ensure it ends up in the hands of rural coffee farmers, with the help of mobile technology.

"We work together and decide what is the best information that will be useful for them. For example, the price of coffee, every day, is so important for them," Kira Angulo, National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia account lead at SAP, told Fast Company.

"If they sell some coffee that they left at the cooperative, they want to know this information. Through the portal, they can see that. Or they can see if the coffee is in the cooperative, and nobody buys this coffee."

The FNC have purchased tablets for farmers for the use of email and to get real-time information such as prices and sales. They are also providing training to families to give them a better understanding of how to use the gadgets; they have already trained 500 families and hope to reach their goal of 560,000. 

SAP has been providing FNC with funds for the training, which also includes farming management and coffee cultivation methods.

WeatherSafe has rolled out an app to help Rwandan coffee farmers. The app can be used to help revive a crop from rust in just two to three years. It most cases, this process takes 10 years. The app uses satellite imagery and weather data to let farmers know of forthcoming conditions and provides them with targeted warnings. Users can also upload photos of their fields to get personalized advice from researchers.

Check out the video below to learn more about the program.