The Sustainable Development Model for Peruvian Coffee project organized a forum on specialized technical assistance and extension for the coffee sector.
During the event there were presentations on bottleneck issues, lessons learned and technical assistance progress.
Specialized technical assistance has become a key part of agricultural development, especially in this climate change scenario. In response, the Sustainable Development Model Project implemented by SCAN and the Junta Nacional de Café (National Coffee Board), funded by IDB / MIF and SECO held a Forum on Extension and Technical Assistance in the Coffee Value Chain, on 24 October during the ExpoCafé Perú 2015.
The event was aimed at promoting institutions providing technical assistance, in a meeting to present the contributions and bottlenecks on extension services and technical assistance in the coffee value chain.
In this regard, Tomas Cordova Marchena, president of the Junta Nacional de Café, at the opening of the event, raises the issue of the need for the organizations that support services and extension should effectively contribute to creating changes in the current agricultural sector, in order to achieve this transition towards sustainability. The added that producers have long been receiving a large amount of training but that the change is not that evident.
Brigitte Cerfontaine, SCAN international project manager, states that there is not necessarily a direct effect between training and changes in agriculture; knowledge alone is not enough to make a difference. Technical Assistance should keep in mind the principles of learning: If I hear it I forget, if I see it I remember, if I do it I learn.
Patricia Flores, representative of IFOAM Organics International for America and the Caribbean noted that sustainable, high-quality products still represent a great opportunity for farmers in Peru. She pointed out that, “It is important now more than ever to the coffee and cocoa sector to address the extension system focused on the sustainability of the sector.”
In this regard, the international consultant Manuel Diaz added that technical assistance should lead to a deeper reflection on what is wanted in rural societies. As well as “research in the field, with demonstrative plots and guidance toward productivity and quality,” he added.
While technical assistance can be measured in objective results, agricultural labor should also be understood from the human side. In that vein, the president of the Junta Nacional de Café, Tomas Cordova proposed humanizing agriculture.
“The producers are not only objects of technical assistance, they become the main actors of change,” he said.
That is why technical assistance must consider factors such as self-belief and motivation within their strategies.
The forum was attended by SCAN International Project Manager, Brigitte Cerfontaine, the president of the Junta Nacional de Café, Tomas Cordova, the President of the Peruvian Chamber of Coffee and Cocoa, Luis Navarro, representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture and as well as presentations of the experience of regional coordinators around technical assistance.
There were also presentations by field promoters of the Sustainable Development Model project, who are producers and speak from their own experience in their farms applying best practices towards sustainability and the positive results they are obtaining.
The main conclusions of the forum are the following:
- All the institutions that provide technical assistance on coffee must reach consensus on guidelines and criteria to generate recommendations to the producers.
- The Peruvian coffee industry has every chance to be sustainable but requires more input from the institutional sector and producers who are more determined to improve their farms.
- Recommendation that Peru build a long-term horizon towards where coffee growing will go and what technical assistance model is best for the needs of the country, looking at decentralizing it in the regions and districts.
- Forming a support network through the SCAN Peru platform will be recommended, which will result in the international network of Technical Assistance for Sustainable Agriculture.