Raiz Connect: Creating Coffee Connections

Brianna McCain

August 27, 2017

This past July, S&D Coffee & Tea, one of the world’s foremost coffee manufacturers, held their first annual Raiz Connect conference in Medellin, Colombia. The event took place after the World Coffee Producers Forum and rallied a group of nearly fifty S&D supply chain stakeholders around the goal of sustainable coffee. SupplyShift was in attendance to showcase our mobile application, meet face to face with a few of our partners, and share in the overall buzz of collaboration.

The two-day event kicked off with a viewing of Raiz: Rooted in Impact, then jumped straight into featured presentations by some of the most prominent minds in the world of coffee sustainability. First up was keynote speaker Kim Ionescu, Chief Sustainability Officer of the Specialty Coffee Association, who outlined the need for a holistic approach to solving the coffee industry’s many challenges. Afterward, Conservation International (CI) and the Committee on Sustainability Assessment (COSA) presented overall Raiz results from the previous rounds of performance monitoring, evaluations, and audits. These results highlighted overall group progress, and the impact that Raiz resources are having on the different programs.

As a personal highlight, I had the privilege of introducing SupplyShift’s mobile application to an incredible group of stakeholders from all different stages of the coffee journey. In a purely technical presentation, I showed how contributors to the Raiz program can use this tool to collect offline, in-the-field performance data from rural coffee farmers across the Americas. Although data collection will not begin for another month, agronomists were eager to get acquainted with the technology and experience it hands-on in their chosen language. Before the first day of the conference wrapped up, everyone got back together for a collaborative brainstorming workshop on farmer concerns and practical improvements to production.

On the second day, we sat down with each partner group participating in Raiz to explore their compliance results that were analyzed using SupplyShift. I also gave platform demos to attendees who were understandably curious about this new system being integrated into their everyday reporting practices. Implementing new technologies into any program can be a tough proposition, but it was a truly rewarding experience to see the benefits begin to pan out in real time.

Coffee supply chains face some of the toughest issues in agricultural sustainability, and these challenges will likely multiply as factors like climate change and economic instability become more severe. The conference presented a unique opportunity to tackle these problems in a collaborative space alongside experienced contributors to S&D’s Raiz Sustainability program. Raiz Connect is an example of how crucial these events are for the alignment of industry interests and the progression toward sustainable coffee production. While the road ahead seems long and arduous, after an event like this, the reality of a transformed coffee supply chain feels a little bit less distant.

Brianna McCain

August 27, 2017

Raiz Sustainability program. Raiz Connect is an example of how crucial these events are for the alignment of industry interests and the progression toward sustainable coffee production.