No 12

Sica, Cutting-Edge Technology that Makes Visible the Smallest Coffee Grower

June, 2013

What's behind Colombian Coffee

Sica, Cutting-Edge Technology that Makes Visible the Smallest Coffee Grower

In the eyes of Colombian Coffee Growers Federation (FNC), all producers count. Even the smallest coffee grower, with the smallest and remotest farm that can only be reached on foot or on mule, figures by the grower´s name and is geo-referenced in the Coffee-Growing Information System (SICA).


Using this high-precision technology, from the smallest farmstead to the largest commercial farms are visible and monitored. This robust geo-referenced database contains a detailed description of 1.92 million lots of coffee (ie a plantation with same density, age and variety) as well as the socioeconomic information about over 561,000 coffee-growing families.

Sica is not only a dynamic database updated every day; it is also one of the Federation’s most valuable and reliable assets. It is essential for the development, management and monitoring of the coffee-growing policies including resource allocation priorities and KPI management, with a reliability and transparency that have been recognized nationally and internationally.

Sica was developed and is managed by the FNC. It is accessible via Internet and enables the Federation to plan, carry out, manage and better focus its policies and programs in order to benefit the coffee-growing families. Its information can be easily accessed even by the farmers themselves.

Recently a group of international experts in extension systems (MEAS, www.meas-extension.org) visited Colombia to evaluate the Federation’s Extension Service. They made the observation that this service to producers is much more efficient thanks to a tool such as Sica. (To see video)

Going no further, Sica has been a crucial tool in channeling aid and resources from the national government. For example, through the Colombia Humanitaria program, coffee growers affected by coffee leaf rust,  due to unprecedented heavy rains as a result of the “Niña” phenomenon between 2010 and 2011, were located and identified by this tool.

Sica information also worked as input for the Consolidated Register of Victims by Colombia Humanitaria,  and avoided making a double collection of information on affected coffee growers required by the presidential program to manage the aid for this population in a efficient and quick way.

Sica proved to be a very reliable tool not only for Colombia Humanitaria, but in the eyes of the national Comptroller, which accompanied us in the process,” says Roberto Zapata, current manager of Colombia Humanitaria. ”The information was very clear and allowed to allocate resources to the affected coffee growers. And given that the information system is managed by the Federation, there was a guarantee of transparency for us and for the control entities”.

By using Sica as input for the Consolidated Register of Victims, a considerable amount of public resources was spared. “The Federation has set up a very effective management system (Sica) . In our case the system was valuable, in the sense of supporting allocation of resources,” Zapata remarks. “It was evident that there was a big affectation to a coffee-growing population, and given the nature and accuracy of the geo-referenced information that the Federation had, the allocation of resources to this population was easier.”

Through Sica, 202,649 rust-affected coffee growers were detected, owners of 173,000 hectares grown with non rust-resistant varieties, who were given fungicides and fertilizers to restore the productive potential of coffee crops.

In the current situation of low international coffee prices and appreciation of the peso, the Sica,  has been a great help to provide transparency to delivery of Supports to Coffee Grower’s Income (AIC-PIC Programs) from the National Government, that go straight to the producer’s pocket for every coffee load (two sacks) sold.

Sica helps to validate that the person requesting the support is actually a coffee producer and that the amount of coffee sold is in line with his/her expected production curve for the harvest year. Otherwise, the State would have to resort to the last available agricultural census, which is the oldest in Latin America.

At the technological level, on the implementation of Sica, the Federation has been recognized by the Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI, www.esri.com) as a globally successful case.

On the other hand, in order to encourage and promote implementation of Geographic Information Systems (SIG) in Latin America, the “Latin American Award for Excellence in SIG” recognizes the most outstanding SIG projects and implementations of each country, an award that the Federation’s Sica WEB system won in 2010.

Data contained in Sica such as production systems, number of hectares, variety planted, density, renovation of coffee plantations and crop age also allow identifying and making programs and action plans to partner with national and international cooperation agencies.

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Part of success of this tool, which contributes to strengthen Colombian coffee growing, lies in the constant updating, farm by farm and in real-time, of the information by the FNC Extension Service. To update information on lots and coffee farms, the extension staff  uses aerial photographs and high resolution satellite images.

To highlight

 

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Satelital image SICA Caldas

You are invited to learn more about our coffee family and our products, visiting the COLOMBIAN COFFEE INSIDER sections on the top of this page.