Stories from Ethiopia – Ilse’s Blog – Part 1

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Red Bracelets and Mobile Apps

We live exciting times my friends, as harvest season is almost there. In order to prepare the smallholder farmers for harvest, we sent our Master Trainers into the field in order to outline every detail about cherry picking. This year, FairChain introduces an experiment with red bracelets that have exactly the right colour of a beautiful, ready-to-be-picked coffee cherry. 

With the red bracelets, we aim to avoid that farmers also pick unripe green cherries, or overripe purple ones. Because only the red cherries guarantee the finest quality coffee for you and a premium price for the farmer. Win-Win!

 

Preparing the Washing Station

The smallholder farmers are not the only ones who need to be prepared for the harvest season. Our FairChain staff also needs to ensure that the washing station is ready for cherry collection and processing. You know, the cherry does not turn itself into a coffee bean after you bought it from the smallholder farmer. After purchasing the cherries from the farmer, they are passed through a depulping machine to eliminate the sticky layer surrounding the bean. Then, the beans get washed and eventually they need to dry. For the drying process, we use drying beds made of wood. That looks like this:

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Sun dried Coffee

Did you already taste our special “Sun dried Coffee”? Sundried coffee kind of skips the washing process. Instead, the sun dries up the cherry around the bean, after which the dry skin (cascara) is taken off and only a clean and sun dried green bean is the result. As sun dried coffee only needs the sun, love and attention, our farmers can dry it at their houses. Therefore, we included best practices for sun drying in our training to the smallholder farmers.

To do this, it is important to first know the current situation. How many farmers apply the knowledge and in what way? This made I started my work with doing farm visits, gathering data on application and producing maps to make this visible

SmartFarm App

FairChain believes in the power of new technologies and we don’t see any reason why our team in the field in Limu, Ethiopia, should not get the opportunity to use them as well. That is why we introduce this year the SmartFarm App for data collection. It is important for us to know what is going on in the coffee fields of each smallholder, so that we best know how to assist. Whereas we used to send our data collection team into the field with a paper list and a pen before, we aim to send them in the field with a mobile phone and the SmartFarm App. When information about land size, number of trees, compost practices and more is collected, it can directly be introduced in the SmartFarm App. With one click on the “send” button, the data collector sends the information that he or she collected to the blockchain and you and me can check it out!

So last weekend we gathered our data collection team together and we presented the new digital approach and the SmartFarm App to them. The team was curious to learn about the SmartFarm App and to modernize their way of working. We still have some work to do to ensure that the digitalization of data collection will work smoothly, but you know, a good start is half of the work!