From 27 – 28 October 2016, the Kick-Off Workshop for the GREENcoffee project took place at the office of the Economic Research Institute of Posts and Telecommunications (ERIPT) in Hanoi, Vietnam. Just days before the kick-off, the lead agency, ICCO South East Asia, and local partner, ERIPT, signed the agreement in Ho Chi Minh to officially launch the project.
Present during the opening of the kick-off workshop were representatives from the Netherlands Space Office (NSO): Project Advisor, Ruud Grim and the Netherlands Embassy in Vietnam: Deputy Chief of Mission, Pauline Eizema. During the two-day workshop, the project’s Dutch and local partners came together to get to know new team members, discuss the project and next steps.
The GREENcoffee Project
So what is the GREENcoffee project about? As a result of climate change, coffee farmers in the Central Highlands of Vietnam have faced increasingly turbulent weather conditions such as excessive rains during the rainy season and prolonged spells during the dry season. These tempestuous situations have caused widespread production losses and water shortages over the recent years.
In the field of digital communications, one of the trends that continues to expand is the use of mobile technology to bridge the information gap not only in education but in the provision of various services. This project aims to implement a financially sustainable information service to support 100,000 coffee farmers in the Central Highlands increase their production, income, food security and reduce their inputs of water, fertilizer and pesticides. These services will be delivered by SMS and a mobile phone application to smallholder farmers and other clients.
Partners and Services
This project is a result of a private-public partnership between 10 entities from the Netherlands and Vietnam including, from the Netherlands: ICCO SEA, Nelen and Schuurmans, UTZ, AKVO, WaterWatch Projects, TTC Mobile and eLEAF; and from Vietnam: ERIPT, MARD/IPSARD and MARD/NIAP. Each consortium partner brings to the table a special set of skills, ranging from analyzing satellite data to engaging directly with farmers in the field, that allows this project to not only come together but to ultimately be a success. Their expertise will contribute to delivering the following three services via interactive SMS and a mobile phone application:
- Crop Calendar – i.e. recommendations on what coffee variety to plant and when (area specific)
- Good Agriculture Practices (GAP) Advice – i.e. seed selection, pest and animal control (diagnosis and treatment), irrigation, fertilizer application (site specific)
- Market Information – i.e. buying and selling prices for coffee beans (area specific)
Key Word: Sustainability
In his opening remarks, NSO Project Advisor Ruud Grim, stressed the importance of sustainability:
“We have a great project here but the challenges are also great. One of the key aspects and challenges of this project is to ensure the services continue once the project […] is over. The key ingredients for upscaling are there […]. Wherever we can increase productivity, wherever we can support services with this type of technology… this project can be a good example of how technology has the power to help society and support food security. Your success is our success.”
As the lead agency and a development organization that has extensive experience tackling sustainability and developing sustainable business models, this subject is at the heart of what ICCO Cooperation addresses in their work. Their experience with these issues puts ICCO South East Asia, as managers of the project, in a good position to guide the partners and ensure that the effects of the project reach well beyond its three-year lifespan.
It is regularly the case with development projects worldwide that once the implementation phase is over beneficiaries are unable to continue activities without external support. As such, project results are not sustainable. In recent years, increasing focus on sustainable development, particularly with the ratification of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), has pushed the development sector to engage in innovative ways and new partnerships to ensure sustainability. Putting emphasis on the issue of sustainability from the start ensures that, not only will it be kept in the forefront of everyone’s minds, but that it is fully integrated into the business model.
The Way Forward
After an initial introduction of the tools each partner will bring to the table, the partners submerged themselves in lengthy and in-depth discussions about the scope of work, partnership values, the content of information services and most importantly our added value for sustainability. The partners sorted through the various and challenging aspects of the project, as one would work a jigsaw puzzle, until which pieces would fit and how they would fit became clearer.
Over the coming months, the partners will engage with each other to refine the results of the discussions that were started in this workshop and pave the way forward towards finding a successful solution. Stay tuned to our social media pages as we share more updates as the project continues.