Activating connections through technology and innovation in Mesetas, Colombia

At the beginning of February, we returned to Mesetas, Meta. This time, we went with XFarm, who we have partnered up with to leverage the internet connectivity that was deployed through TV White Space (TVWS) technology in 5 coffee farms.

XFarm is an Italian agri-tech company that developed a data platform to support farmers and agronomists to improve the yield, quality and productivity of their crops.

Precision agriculture is becoming more and more common in Europe, but in Colombia –and especially in Mesetas— this is very new. XFarm’s Matteo Vanotti and Simone Massenzio spent almost two weeks visiting farms around Mesetas that already have internet connectivity, to place weather stations and sensors at the coffee plantations, as well as install and train farmers and agronomists on the use of their App and platform.

In addition to the information and data that is now made available to both agronomists and farmers from the weather station and sensors, a deeper connection was created with the power of this technology: between coffee farmers, agronomists and engineers, between agronomists, engineers and the developers of the app, and ultimately, between consumers, buyers and farmers.

We witnessed the close bond that exists between agronomists, engineers and farmers
Agronomists and agroforest engineers deeply care about the farms and farmers that they work with. They know the trajectory and history of their crop, they understand the challenges that they face, and they are genuinely committed to supporting them in order to improve the quality and yield of their product.

In Mesetas, due to large distances and hard terrains, it is difficult for the agronomists and engineers to reach and visit farms as often and periodically as they would like. Nonetheless, by deploying XFarm’s platform, and having access to real-time data about each individual crop, agronomists and engineers can communicate and give their advice to farmers in a timely manner. They can alert when possible diseases affect a crop, or how to manage and fertilize the land according to weather and soil conditions. This deepens the bond that already exists by breaking the barriers of time, access and distance.

Developers need agronomists and engineers. Agronomists and engineers need developers
We also saw the importance of face-to-face interaction between the agronomists, engineers and tech-developers. XFarm has a robust platform but it had never been used on coffee crops before. A vital element of XFarm’s visit to Mesetas aside from installing devices and training, was to learn from the local conditions and quickly iterate both the app and platform so that they are truly adapted to the real needs of farmers, agronomists and engineers.

Matteo Vanotti and Simone Massenzio spent long hours understanding the coffee production process in these farms, asking questions and deeply delving into the local agricultural practices of the special coffee that grows in Mesetas. They relayed their learnings to their colleagues back in Italy, and in real-time, the app quickly started to adapt in order to become more useful as a management tool for farmers, agronomists and engineers alike.

The entire value chain is transformed through technology
Consumers all over the world are every day more aware about the products that they choose to buy. They are more curious about who and how they were produced and are willing to pay more, to guarantee that they are being responsible. Companies like Lavazza, that buy certified coffee beans and are truly committed to quality, social and environmental sustainability, and responsible production and consumption are highly interested in having as much detail about the production process as possible.

The data generated by platforms such as XFarm deepens the connection of Lavazza as a buyer to the farms where it sources its beans. In the middle and long-term, this technology can be used for traceability, allowing them to closely monitor every single phase of the production process.

At ALO&Partners we believe in the power of connections to effect change. And we are convinced that technology activates and deepens links between countries, organizations and individuals.