- By Elna Schutz
- South African business journalist
“My parents were coffee growers. I’m a coffee grower. I’ve known how to handle coffee since I was born,” says Faustin Muromba from Bweelemana, West Congolese Democratic Republic (DRC).
Mr. Muromba has worked in coffee farming for most of his life, but last year he was in charge of the coffee washing station of the AMKA Cooperative, a group of more than 2,000 farmers near Lake Kivu.
At this station, coffee bean peels and pulp from farms in the area have been removed. They are washed, sorted and dried before being sent to town for further processing.
Especially to read on the BBC Africa:
Up to 120,000 kg of coffee cherries pass through the station each year. The station is just below the full container of green coffee beans.
Mr. Muromba’s family has a long history in coffee production, but the introduction of new technologies has changed their view.
Now, when beans from the co-operative are sold to Nespresso, the company uses advanced data capture and storage methods, including blockchain technology, to track the beans moving from the farm to the customer.
A blockchain is a digital record or log of a transaction. Information is distributed and stored across your network. The idea behind using a ledger is to make the information easy to see, but it’s difficult to work with.
In fact, Mulomba uses a simple smartphone app to scan the QR code and provide information about a particular coffee bag, such as weight and pulping data.
For Mr. Muromba, new technology means being able to see how much coffee is produced by the co-operative, where the coffee is, and whether the coffee is handled correctly.
“This is a great tool. […] This allows us to measure all quantities in real time and supply them to co-operatives, “he says.
Nespresso has partnered with Australian startup OpenSC. This is a technology company that specializes in food traceability. OpenSC also uses Global Positioning System (GPS) data and fishing vessel sensors to work with Austral Fisheries to ensure that vessels are not fishing in marine protected areas.
Markus Mutz, Managing Director and Co-Founder, believes the system is a better alternative to manual spot-checking by civil servants.
“Reason for tracing objects [en premier lieu] If there is nothing to be proud of or worth, “he explains.
Continuous retention of data from production sources can improve the overall production process and prevent losses and fraud.
However, such traces are not without problems. As with any process that requires a database, the quality of the information introduced is essential to its success. For example, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, when coffee is harvested at night, connectivity issues and data entry delays can occur.
Arisbe Mendoza, Global Impact Director at Fairtrade International, explains that Trace Technology provides an opportunity to monitor and support the fair treatment and compensation of workers throughout the supply chain.
Organizations want more traceability in international trade.
However, reflecting Mr. Muromba’s concerns, Mr. Mendoza said: Everyone in the supply chain who uses these tools can understand and get the most out of them. “
According to her, producers and farmers need full access to and use of supply chain data, negotiating prices, demonstrating compliance and access to markets. But in many cases this is not the case, or the rights to the data are unclear.
“Producers may have access to information, but they don’t necessarily have that right. You need to make sure that you own the data, and the producer will need to. You can also use the data. “
Sara Eckhouse, executive director of FoodShot Global, a food system investment platform, said the inability to track food can foster consumer distrust and even perpetuate poor labor practices and lack of sustainability. increase.
However, she fears that traceability-related cost and logistic issues will eventually be passed on to producers. She also warns that adding traceability marketing to a product can be more confusing than useful for buyers who are already facing a variety of possibly sustainable labels.
“Even if every company has its own standards to verify and there is no unified standard or expectation that everyone meets the minimum requirements, make a claim like” sustainable verification by blockchain “. You can create a company, but what does that really mean? “
Other business technologies:
Shalini Unnikrishnan is the Managing Director and Partner of the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), which supports a variety of food traceability projects, including OpenSC.
According to her, consumers are increasingly hoping to change their food buying habits to be more sustainable, such as paying more for certain products.
While many exciting SMEs and pilots are emerging in the so-called “digital agriculture” sector, Unnikrishnan adds that a policy framework is needed to expand these businesses.
“I think regulatory standards are really basic to make sure that the changes that are happening are happening on a large scale,” she says. Standard framework. ”
So what do your customers think?
Thomas Kunze, a German management consultant, is a coffee lover who likes to buy local coffee beans when traveling abroad. He values quality and procurement from interesting places. He recently purchased a limited edition coffee pod that displays traceability tools.
Kunze scans the QR code on the package to see which region or co-operative his coffee comes from. This includes profiles of some farmers and whether they are paid for production.
“It’s interesting, but not important,” he says about visualizing his brewery journey. “Traceability looks good, but I don’t know where it is, so I need more information about the stage and location.”
Returning to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mr. Muromba willingly invites coffee drinkers. “It is very important for consumers to visit us, [alors] They may know our reality on earth. ”