Supporting the coffee value chain in Uganda, Kenya and Honduras
Helping the world’s largest coffee-trading group to track and deepen its interactions with smallholder coffee farmers
Among the world’s 12.5 million coffee farms, 12.4 million are smallholder-owned. Smallholder farmers and their families produce 80% of the world’s coffee. Yet half of smallholder farmers are trapped in poverty (defined as less than USD 3.20 per day at 2011 PPP). In debt to local loan sharks, they are unable to invest in their farms, which suffer from low crop yields and low quality as a result, continuing the vicious cycle. To break out of the trap, the farmers need training in good agricultural practices, access to inputs such as high-quality seedlings, appropriate fertilizers and pest protection, longer-term loans for farm investments, and certification schemes for higher prices.
Neumann Kaffee Gruppe (NKG) is the largest coffee-trading group worldwide. In 2019 NKG traded 900,000 tonnes of green coffee, equivalent to about 10% of the world’s coffee consumption. Its NKG Bloom initiative, currently being rolled out across several of its exporting countries, builds a more sustainable coffee value chain by offering deeper, longer-term relationships to smallholder farmers, including through financing, inputs and agronomist support (https://nkgbloom.coffee/).
Field Buzz software is used throughout NKG’s field operations in Uganda, Kenya and Honduras (with more countries on the way), to track and manage all of NKG’s interactions with smallholder farmers:
- Register farmers and record crop transactions along the supply chain from farmer to cooperative to mill to export warehouse;
- Provide full traceability and transparency right back to the farmers for discerning international buyers who are willing to pay a price premium for responsibly-sourced coffee;
- Track the reinvestment of the price premium into well-targeted extension services to the registered farmers by the company’s agronomists, identifying exactly which farmers receive which services, and tracking the improvements in each farm and in the farmers’ incomes over time; and
- Assess, disburse and manage cash (mobile-money) and in-kind fertilizer loans to the farmers with the option to repay microloans through their future coffee deliveries.
Farmers respond to this loyalty and trust by growing and selling more, higher-quality coffee, lifting them out of poverty while helping to secure NKG’s market-leading position and reputation.
Field Buzz software has been at the heart of NKG’s sustainability programme for smallholders since 2017, with 250 buyers, agronomists, trainers and risk officers using the software daily to interact with over 50,000 registered coffee farmers in three countries (Uganda, Kenya, Honduras). More countries, farmers, users and activities will be added continuously over the next few years. Thanks to the support and investment enabled by the software, smallholder farmers can experience up to a tripling of their crop yield and income within the first 12 months of enrolment in the programme.