Tierra Colombia: Technology Transformation

Since 2015, Carcafe, coffee exporters from Colombia and Lavazza, an Italian coffee roaster company, have joined efforts to support the coffee growers’ community in the municipalities of Lejanías, Mesetas and San Juan de Arama, located within the border of the natural parks of Sumapaz and Macarena, in the department of Meta. With the local coffee-growing families, they have implemented a sustainable and environmentally friendly coffee production system. A qualified team of agricultural engineers advice the coffee growers to increase their productivity, maintain their quality standards and implement sustainable practices.

ALO and MAKAIA joined to this initiative to complement the objectives and philosophy of the project promoting the ICT adoption in the coffee sector in order to improve productivity and market access.

Expected Outcome:

Strengthen the capacities of coffee growers and transform their lives thanks the use and adoption of ICT tools that can be incorporated in their daily activities to improve their productivity and value chain.

April 2016 – March 2020

Mesetas, Lejanías and San Juan de Arama municipalities (Meta, Colombia)

Coffee growers and their families
Teachers of the region
Women Coffee Growers

Young people

Lavazza Foundation
ALO (Operator in partnership with MAKAIA)

SAFE PLATFORM 
Carcafé
National Spectrum Agengy (ANE) 
Ministry of ICT 
Microsoft Colombia
SAP Colombia
Meta Government

With the needs found in the area, three axes of impact were proposed in which we work to provide opportunities for sustainable development:

  1. Access and connectivity: Installation and adaptation of technology to give Internet access to farms and schools in the area. This was achieved by taking advantage of the spectral spaces that have rendered the analogue TV unusable when moving to the digital format (TV White Spaces) and make possible a speed up to 20 megabits per second.
  2. ICT Adoption: We provided training and advisory to coffee growers, their families and the teachers of the public schools with access to internet, achieving ICT sensibilization adoption and strengthening of the digital skills they need to be use for education and everyday life.
  3. Business development / Value chain: Through the ICT activities and tools developed in the training cycles, the project seeks to positively impact the processes and activities of coffee growers.

*Telemedicine: In partnership with the University of Antioquia, we implemented a Telemedicine pilot to assist this community with telediagnosis and teleconsultation services. Telemedicine is a way to provide remote medical services and leverage ICT to prevent, identify, and treat diseases.

The project improves farmes productivity by implementing an information and data plataform in order to train coffee growers in topics such as agricultural information, health and education, among others. Besides, the platform will provide real-time information on market prices, weather, temperature, among others. Where no connectivity is available SMS will be used. The 5 farmers that also implement the IoT devices, will have additional information, for instance from sensor that measures and reports in real time the humidity of the coffee crop and that based on this information the coffee grower can make decisions, and if possible related to Coffee Traceability.

“Innovation Labs” will be created in the schools, farms and 4 local public libraries to foster activities of co-creation, resolution and test Tech ideas. Youth will have a key role in these labs and will support rural coffee growers in adopting technology.

What is TVWS technology?

TVWS blank spaces can be defined as channels that are not available when the TV is turned on. These channels look like a blue screen, black or gray interference, they are part of the electromagnetic spectrum that carries signals to our homes.

The investigations of technological giants like Microsoft have allowed to use those channels that until now have not had a function, to develop the TVWS technology that allows to transmit Internet of very good quality and install it in the rural populations where the network infrastructure or geography (mountains or forests) is difficult to reach. Tierra Colombia: Technology Transformation is a pioneering project in the use of this technology, which by 2017 had only been implemented successfully in 8 countries: Jamaica, Namibia, The Philippines, Tanzania, Taiwan, Colombia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Since October 2016, the people in the area have access to Internet, trough the installation of equipment and towers and the work in the technical adjustments necessary to bring connectivity to the farms and schools benefited; generating coverage in the desired area. In addition, the following milestones have been achieved:

  • 5 farms of family coffee farmers connected to the Internet
  • 2 Educational institutions connected through TVWS

This process was complemented with digital literacy and ICT adoption training that was carried out in the area and was directed to coffee growers and teachers of educational institutions to improve the competitiveness of Mesetas, Meta, in the fields of education and technology 

  • 32 coffee farmers trained in 6 modules of digital adoption
  • 33 teachers trained in 4 modules of digital adoption

Thus we have exceeded the initial estimates and continue to achieve important achievements such as:

  • 17 coffee farmers treated through a Telemedicine pilot carried out with the University of Antioquia, in 4 medical specialties: internal medicine, cardiology, psychiatry and dermatology.

Awards:

  • Selected as one of the 10 most innovative social initiatives of 2017 by the CAF: Development Bank of Latin America and Compromiso Empresarial Magazine.
  • Winner of the IoT Innovation Award from the Dynamic Spectrum Alliance at the DSA Global Summit (London, 2018).

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