No 30

Extension Service, Transfer of Knowledge and Support to the Coffee Farmer

May, 2012

WHAT'S BEHIND

Extension Service, Transfer of Knowledge and Support to the Coffee Farmer

More than 1,500 agronomists and agricultural technicians, who belong to the Extension Service, provide guidance to Colombian producers for the modernization of their crops. The purpose is to increase farm productivity and family income through friendly environmental practices.

In the last edition we talked about how Café de Colombia has a product support system unique in the world and why this system is a major component for the recognition and reputation of Café de Colombia in dozens of markets. The Extension Service of the Federation, with over 1,500 technicians that advice Colombian coffee growers, is vital in this system.

Since coffee is an agricultural product, the first step in maintaining the characteristic quality of Colombian coffee is to provide the necessary technical tools and technologies developed by Cenicafé to get the most out of the crops. Thus, the Extension Service, created in 1959, performs technical, social, economic, environmental and associative programs with the coffee producers throughout the country. Because of this social and community work it is also recognized as an “Ejército de Paz” (Army of Peace).

Extensionists are men and women identified with yellow shirts who bring up to date producers on the progress achieved and the latest research, so that they can use it in their crops to improve their production capacity. To understand the scope of this work, is worth reminding that in 2011 the extension workers made 907,856 individual contacts with producers, and 35,582 group activities, meaning that during that year there were 1.4 million contacts. These figures and their monitoring are part of the ISO 9001:2008 standards which certify the Extension Service of the Federation. 

In addition to transmitting the knowledge related to the cultivation of coffee, the extension workers support farmers offering the necessary instruments to apply administrative tools viewing their farm as a coffee enterprise, providing support and training to develop their management skills. Similarly they are the direct communication channel for rural support programs, such as crop diversification, food security or coffee-credit programs, which are disseminated by individual visits to the farm or group events scheduled during the year.

The Extension Service has a sophisticated coffee management tool called SIC@ WEB. This geo-referencing database provides an update on the coffee lots and their characteristics in terms of land and crops in all Colombian farms, so it becomes an invaluable tool for the proper provision and monitoring of technical assistance services.

The above summarizes what the extension workers contributes to improve the quality of life for coffee-growing families. Adopting practices that allow them to produce excellent quality coffee, cost-effective, sustainable and environmentally friendly is, without a doubt, another guarantee that endorses Café de Colombia.

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