What Traceability Offers FarmersTraceability is often seen as an issue for the buyer, allowing them to understand where what they have bought comes from, who it was made by and how much was paid. It mitigates many of the problems that distanciation can cause, as this information is easily lost in the supply chain, particularly over great distances. However, where do producers fit into this equation, and what does traceability really offer them?
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Recognition for work carried out should never be underestimated. Without it, it is hard to find the incentive to improve what you do. This is what was seen for many years in the coffee industry around the world, where no matter how much effort was put into the production of coffee, it would ultimately just be mixed in with something else, leaving little incentive for producers to worry about the quality of their production. The search for better traceability and quality has led to a change in this mentality, giving producers reason to focus on the quality of what they produce as now there is value in doing so. Traceability begins by creating recognition for farmers, allowing them to see that it is worth going the extra mile and that they will be compensated for it.
After recognition comes reputation. Having a reputation creates demand and this allows for better prices. If, as the farmer, you can be singled out as producing something very special, your coffee in the future will be sought out and viewed as special. Traceability allows for the formation of reputations and development of personal brands. The coffee will no longer be part of a general brand or region but will truly be its own thing. Yes, the potential for better prices comes in here but this is not the only significant factor. As with any career, becoming an industry leader is the goal for many and achieving this type of professional recognition is, for many, just as important as improved prices.
The reputation a farmer makes for themselves can eventually result in direct relationships with buyers and fixed prices that can help producers plan for the future, continue improving what they do, as well as grow their business. This is something many farmers cannot even dream of. There is no way that they can know what their crop will be worth from one harvest to the next. This kind of instability makes it very hard to plan and leads to a “taking-each-step-at-a-time” approach, making real change almost impossible.
Ultimately, traceability can lead to farmers creating a brand for themselves and allows them access to a world beyond their farm, through forging relationships with buyers and consumers. It allows farmers to demand better prices and changes the mentality of what they produce from a plain commodity to something unique. These are important ideas as understanding the bigger picture of what you do adds purpose to the pursuit, and in turn can help you understand your target market better, resulting in opportunities to add even more value.