The “Increase of the Income Earning Capacity Through Participatory Training Approach and Access to Fertilizers” (IPTF) project aims to address several issues in Colombian coffee production namely sub-optimal yields and high costs of production. Two possible causes of the cub-optimal yields in the sector are the low adoption of Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) and poor record keeping. Traditional, top-down training approaches have witnessed limited results in productivity increase ad cost reduction. For this reason, the IPTF project uses farmer trainers and farmer field school structures to tackle the issues Colombian coffee farmers face. While these approaches in themselves are not necessarily new, the project is innovative is several ways. Firstly, farmers from each region select their own GAP priorities that are then incorporated into on-farm demonstrations (rather than classroom trainings). Beyond this, the project also introduces a new, tablet-based record keeping system for crop management, training registration and agro-input efficiency measurement. This system provides farmers with a communication platform with technicians, when they are not with farmers in the field. Lastly, fertilizer and construction materials will be provided through demo plots throughout the 3 years to ensure the correct usage of materials in the right timeframe.
Pedro Manrique (Coffee Research & Sustainability Manager)