Vinculum, an early-stage startup company that seeks to empower coffee farmers to generate quality farm-level data using artificial intelligence (AI) and satellite remote sensing technologies, has announced its new pilot program launching this year.
Taking place in Planadas, Colombia — the nation’s third-largest coffee-producing municipality and several-time winner of the Colombia Cup of Excellence, located in the department of Tolima — the pilot project will use satellite remote sensing to provide farmers and their partners insights to manage and lower farm production risk, inform short- and long-term investment decisions, and set the foundation for evidence-based farm interventions, all in service of supporting sustainable, high-quality coffee production.
Coffee farm harvest monitoring and forecasting are typically based on traditional methods such as farm inspections and tree sampling; however, these techniques are labour-intensive, expensive, and difficult to scale. The pilot will take a novel approach to these activities by using specific applications based on satellite remote sensing technologies, ancillary data sources, and farm GPS locations to map and score agri-climatic risks at high spatial resolution; predict farm yield; and forecast coffee production. The pilot will work closely with pilot partners to tailor its finding to four potential user groups: farmers, intermediaries (e.g., farmer groups), traders, and financial institutions.
“In a time of greater price and climate volatility, data must be more available, trustworthy, and independent,” says Manuel Camacho, founder and CEO of Vinculum.
“We see the opportunity to use our technology to provide quality information and objective monitoring of farms—key elements that can help smallholder farmers obtain the farm intelligence needed to produce quality coffee sustainably, as well as propel a new generation of data-driven risk management services for farmers. We’re so excited to test and validate this technology through the new pilot in Planadas.”
The pilot will work in partnership with local stakeholders—including ASOPEP, an innovative farmer association of 350 smallholder coffee farmers—and is supported by European Space Agency’s Space Solutions Department and Rabo Foundation. Pilot partners also include Progreso Foundation and its Beyco coffee trading platform, as well as Olam Coffee in Colombia.