Measurement Matters: 
Insights from a cooperative, extension service, and trader in Brazil 

The GCP team, members and partners put an incredible amount of effort into measuring sustainability — designing indicators, collecting data, managing data and reporting on sustainability. The Coffee Data Standard and the Delta Project are just two examples of this. It can be challenging to understand what measuring sustainability means for coffee sector activities. But meaningful measurement does matter and it can have an impact on coffee production and the livelihoods of coffee farmers.

We take you to Brazil for a closer look at the initial experiences of GCP measurement initiatives among coffee cooperatives, extension services and traders. 

The GCP Brazil Country Platform focuses on providing guidance to its members and partners through the development and implementation of tools for continuous improvement in coffee sustainability. In particular, the platform has spearheaded action through GCP Collective Action Initiatives, bringing members together to address a specific need related to a pressing sustainability issue. Currently, the Brazil Team coordinates two GCP Collective Action Initiatives: ‘Responsible Use of Agrochemicals’ (2018-2023) and ´Social Well-Being´, which has just started, as of September (to last from 2020 to 2024). 

To support the measurement of key sustainability issues, GCP Brazil has developed the Coffee Sustainability Curriculum app, which allows users to monitor the adoption of practices from the Coffee Curriculum, focusing on 18 Fundamental Items. It allows for the evaluation of 35 sustainability indicators, defined by the GCP Brazil Working Group based on discussions with the Brazilian coffee chain stakeholders, in addition to generating different reports on the situation and evolution of coffee properties and institutions.  

So how have measurement tools impacted coffee stakeholders in Brazil? 

The case of the cooperative: The Brazilian national platform worked with a statistician to develop a formula that would determine the right subset of cooperative members (Minas Gerais) to interview and collect data on coffee production, including the responsible use of agrochemicals. Without this formula, the cooperative would normally collect data from all 700 of its members — a timely and expensive exercise. With the formula, the cooperative was able to reduce its data collection to 250 farmers and is able to collect data in three months (compared to the usual time of one year). Moreover, the formula is designed in such a way that any entity in Brazil can use it to efficiently collect data. Thishelps agronomists and technicians from coffee entities to identify issues at field-level that require attention, to prioritize them, and also guide growers toward change; it is a continuous improvement system based on GCP tools. 

The case of extension services: A public extension service is using the CSC app and the formula developed by GCP to collect better data from coffee growers. But they are not just collecting data. The extension service is using GCP tools to identify gaps in the services they provide and improve their services based on the data collected. This means better service for coffee producers, and more chances to succeed at driving growers through change, while monitoring advances and/or challenges related to sustainable practices.  

The case of the coffee trader: apart from having its own tool for collecting data from growers, an international trader (and GCP member) identified an opportunity by using the CSC App, since it generates reports using collected data, which enables the trader to better understand the growers’ situation and also make better use of their resources at field-level. This coffee trader has been working with the GCP Brazil team to analyze both applications and make them compatible, so transferring data from one to the other is now possible. This GCP member is now piloting the use of the GCP app (along with its own app) among a significant group of Brazilian coffee growers; they have also started adopting the Internal Management System for sustainability to organize, plan and monitor its team and activities in progress. 

As the measurement efforts in Brazil continue, so too will the evidence of the impacts of such activities. These initiatives are strengthened by the willingness of members and partners to collaborate and engage with the country platforms’ activities. Not only by collecting data but by organizing them, it is possible to know and better understand several factors related to the coffee grower. This way, opportunities for interventions can be identified, better planned, coordinated, and implemented to generate more impact within the coffee sector. 

To learn more about GCP’s work in Brazil, visit our website.  

Pedro Ronca

GCP Brazil Program Directoremail me