UK Space Agency IPP – Advanced Coffee Crop Optimisation for Rural Development (ACCORD)

Coffee farms and washing station, Rulindo region, Rwanda

ACCORD, led by Earth-i and co-funded from the UK Space Agency’s International Partnership Programme (IPP), uses satellite-enabled data to improve the livelihoods and incomes of smallholder coffee farmers. In November 2018, the IPP team travelled to Rwanda to meet with the international partners who help deliver the project’s impacts.

Coffee is a crucial global commodity. With sales of coffee increasing around the world, the income of many of farmers is tied to the quality, as well as the quantity of the coffee they produce. Earth-i’s ACCORD project uses earth observation data to help farmers make timely, important decisions about crops with greater certainty than traditional methods. This supports the sustainability of coffee as a cash crop for smallholder farmers, and therefore their livelihoods, by enabling them to deliver a more reliable harvest of higher quality coffee.

November’s visit was an opportunity for the IPP team to meet with the project’s consortium partners to review the progress of the project so far, hear input from all the partners and discuss the next steps for the project.

During our visit, we met with three coffee companies who are actively involved in ACCORD; Kinini, Coffee management Service (CMS) and San Francisco Bay Coffee Company (SFBC). Their expertise and local knowledge ensure the project delivers real and positive impacts to the smallholder farmers using the technology.

Rwanda is a small country and 84% of it is covered with farming plots.  More than three-fifths of families working as farmers each cultivate less than 0.7 hectares. The ACCORD project has reached over 20,000 plots in both Rwanda and Kenya, with the intention to reach 50,000 small farming plots by the end of the project.

ACCORD is just one of many IPP projects using space-enabled data to support agriculture in developing countries.  This report by Caribou Space outlines why and how the space technology has a critical role to play in addressing major challenges within agriculture in emerging and developing economies.

A small coffee plot being mapped as part of the ACCORD project in Cyangugu region
Coffee drying beds and washing station in Cyangugu region