Enabling Farmers to Make Better Choices

The Challenge

One of the world’s largest and most successful producer organizations, the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia, has 560,000 members with a range of different needs. When faced with an array of more than a half dozen potential initiatives to improve sustainability, they wanted to offer their members a practical way to make good selections. However, it was next to impossible to understand the many complex trade-offs between environmental, social, and economic impacts in any consistent and comparable manner. Equally important, they wanted to know what happens over time, not just during the first efforts.

The Innovation

The Federation partnered with COSA (initially supported by USAID and ACDI-VOCA) to train a Colombian research institution (CRECE) that could apply innovative sustainability impact assessment for members in different regions of the country. With minor adaptation of COSA tools, CRECE has collected unique data for four years and can compare and share information in a transparent and consistent manner across the regions of Colombia where it operates.

The Outcome

The Federation managers note that having highly credible information permits them to better select from the many sustainability approaches that have been tested there and to help them to better meet their needs.As a simple indication of the perceived value of this information,the organization has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars of its own funds to gather and analyze COSA indicator data.

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