Coffee is the juice that helps millions around the world attempt to overcome late nights and last minute meetings, but the vast majority of coffee is sourced from growers that only operate to crank out as much coffee as they can per year, regardless of the impact to the planet.
To further complicate matters, most industry certifications for responsibly sourced coffee come with a steep price tag that puts them out of reach of all but the largest coffee conglomerates and plantations. Enveritas is a non-profit that is working to change that with a suite of new techniques that leverage technology to assess the sustainability of coffee growing operations at a much lower cost than other certifications. In fact, Enveritas offers certification to small farmers at no cost.
Enveritas founder and CEO David Browning shared that, “The existing solutions work well for large estates and it can also be effective for farmers organized into cooperatives, but many of the world’s coffee farmers are smallholder farmers and not organized into cooperatives. For those farmers, the existing solutions can be more difficult to access.”
Enveritas has developed a set of 30 different metrics that it uses to measure a coffee farm against. These metrics are broken out into 3 categories — social, environmental and economic. For example, Enveritas uses satellite imagery and machine learning to check coffee farms for deforestation, which is one of its key environmental metrics. Leveraging centralized, automated solutions to validate as many of its metrics as possible helps Enveritas to lower the cost of its free-to-farmer certification while still maintaining a high level of integrity and accuracy.
This is especially effective at tracking larger scale issues like deforestation that require an immense amount of human effort and historical data to accurately track in-person. Satellite imagery, on the other hand, is updated regularly and is available at a much lower cost.
Tech Crunch shared that the average farmer Enveritas works with, “has less than two hectares of land, lives on less than $2 a day and relies on cash crops for their family’s income.” For those raised thinking in acres and feet, that’s just under 5 acres of land.
Enveritas currently operates in Uganda, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Colombia and is working to add new farmers and countries all the time. The team is also working to determine if its techniques and solution can be applied to similar industries like cacao, palm oil and cotton.
On a recent trip to Costa Rica with my family last month, I noticed miles and miles of new palm oil plantations that had taken over large swaths of the country’s southwestern coastal land, and it’s no easy task to determine if this type of monocropping is sustainable or if rainforest was cleared to make way for it. Tapping into Enveritas’ solutions to see what crops were on the land a few years back could make it much easier for downstream consumers to see where the palm oil they use comes from and how sustainable it really is (or not).
Source: Tech Crunch
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